Is your WordPress website legally compliant? Do you know if you are breaking the law, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you are using or recommending?
As the digital realm continues growing at breakneck speed and the rules constantly change, it’s vitally important to stay on top of what’s happening and ensure that your site remains legally compliant, especially if your online presence is an integral part of your overall business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, such as the US-based BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
These laws affect several online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, e.g. Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If your business online is not compliant, you could also end up facing a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
The purpose of this guide is to help make you aware that your website are required to comply with various legalities, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of other providers whose services or products you may be selling online, and that there are solutions for WordPress site owners that can help your website become compliant, such as the tools that we list further below.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With The Law?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. As stated above, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with federal, regional or local laws governing business practices online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of 3rd-party companies whose products or services you use
The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A customer suffers a heart attack after using your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate gives someone who purchases from your link allergic reactions.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement informing prospective subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t clearly informed them what you’ll do with their details.
- Someone copies content from your website and publishes it on their own site.
- You haven’t advised your site visitors that you’re an affiliate for the product you are recommending that you could receive an affiliate commission if visitors purchase it.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your refund/return policies.
- Your visitors claim the testimonials on your site are all fake and decide to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed that you were given a free copy of the product you reviewed.
- Your site publishes adult-related information and you have not taken appropriate measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider now these actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would have to give up their personal information to complete a debt reduction offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape Users IDs. Many marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were breaking at least 3 of Google’s policies. Although the website owners could technically be sued by Google, more than likely what could happen, is that they would be issued with warnings or lose access entirely to the Google program whose policies they had infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming targeted for litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA, CPC or PPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
You need to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog is legally compliant.
Compliance With Third-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
All of the big online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You must let your site visitors know that your business complies with all necessary legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and buyer confidence in your business, it’s also required by most companies you engage with online.
Google requires your site to display certain information when using their services or product features. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your blog using Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your site through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products via companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will be required to add a number of legal pages to your site before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for selling via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and statements to visitors, especially concerning the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Comply
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many websites are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As has already been the case, this typically prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any kind of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. you should protect your business interests by ensuring that your website is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
A number of online resources provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. See the additional references and resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Apps Also Require Compliance
If you plan to create apps that integrate with your site, sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Social networking apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of sites like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site via affiliate marketing, or monetizing your pages with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or driving visitors to your website with Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to display on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts suspended.
- If you have been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party services require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
Basic Legal Pages To Include In Your Site
If you suspect that your website lacks in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your site should help your website keep out of trouble with most consumer protection authorities and third-party service providers, and help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above pages, you may want to look into including any of these compliance pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you sell or promote affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides general content about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Audio/Video Terms (e.g. if you provide users with access to media on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the correct type of disclosure to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs visitors that you will not receive any kind of compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors know that you may derive some form of financial benefit if they purchase through your affiliate links.
- Sample Or review Copy – Discloses to users that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Discloses to your visitors that you were compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets your visitors know that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to comply with the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legals folder to your web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory via FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add a link to these legal pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu administration …
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and display clearly to all site visitors. You can add these to your sidebar (or the footer of your website or blog) to ensure that visitors have access to legal information from every web page …
(Display links to your legal information on all of your site’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar menu here:
You can find attorney-drafted disclosures and downloadable website forms and agreements by searching online, or going to websites like the ones listed below:
Go here to learn more:
Another option is to purchase a package of cut & paste website legal templates drafted by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Website Legal Pages)
These templates were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use: with inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page on your website for each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as described previously.
Legal Pages – WordPress Plugins
In addition to using legal templates, you can keep things really simple by using WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress-driven sites that you should check out:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing WordPress Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you time.
Some of the benefits of using the WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any other page on your website.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any page on your website.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed when users agree to your terms.
- New Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will be added to your main navigation menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites, affiliate websites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Page type menu)
You can also select from several pre-written legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Pre-configured Legal Templates)
Legal page templates include:
- Linking Policy
- External Links Policy
- Terms and Conditions
- Refund Policy
- Affiliate Disclosure
- Affiliate Agreement
- Earnings Disclaimer
- Antispam Policy
- DoubleClick DART Cookies Policy
- Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclosure Statement Template
- Medical Disclaimer Template
- Testimonials Disclosure – As per FTC guidelines
- Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template
- DMCA Policy Template
- California Privacy Rights Policy Template
- Digital Goods Refund Policy Template
- Blog Comments Policy Template
- Newsletter Subscription Policy and Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclaimer Widget
To learn more about the benefits of using this great plugin, go here:
complete website compliance and disclaimer solution …
Learn We have written a detailed review of this plugin here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress)
This plugin lets you easily install professionally-written legal pages such as:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Social Media Disclosure
- Medical Disclaimer
- Terms of Service
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress – Professionally-written legal forms)
- Drag & Drop FTC Disclaimer Widget: Add an FTC Disclaimer to any WordPress sidebar or widget area.
With just one-click you can install almost all of the legal pages your site needs and these professionally written legal pages can be created in your theme and/or as a standalone page outside of your theme.
The plugin developers have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress powered site. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
Go here for more information:
If hiring a lawyer to create your legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford a solicitor.
We want your website to be protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal forms, or a legal pages plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to quickly generate necessary legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your website complies with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service for 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or recommend online. If your website isn’t compliant with laws intended to protect consumer rights, you’re breaking the law.
Being non-compliant puts you at risk of suffering both financial losses and the loss of your reputation. Why risk your money and reputation, when you can protect yourself so inexpensively?
Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice. Do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements pertaining to your business.
Legal Resources And References
Here is a useful list of websites we suggest you visit to better understand what your website may require to comply and meet its legal obligations:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau
- Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising
- Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act
- CAN-SPAM Act Guide
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
- FTC Regulatory Review Web Page
- FTC Rules and Guides Currently Under Review
- The Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force – Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework
- FTC Staff Report: Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising
- FTC Final Guides Governing Endorsements and Testimonials
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- Google AdSense Help – Required Content
- Google AdWords – Information Collection And Use
- ClickBank – Creating Your First Product
- Facebook Platform Policies
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a legally compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress site using inexpensive methods and resources.
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)