As a website owner, the last thing you want to do is to learn the hard way that you have broken the law.
As the internet continues to grow at an overwhelming speed and the rules constantly change, it’s absolutely essential to try and stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your website remains legal, especially if having a digital presence is important in the success of your business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for material gain, then you will need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, such as the BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Do a search online for “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – BBB)
The new laws affect several business categories, including:
- Any form of advertising, including Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
Plus, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
In this article, we look at the importance of having a compliant website and how to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your website or blog.
Is Your Website Or Blog Legally Compliant?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. You must carry out your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Why Having A Compliant Website Is Important
Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A person has a heart attack after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate gives a number of users skin rashes.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement informing prospective subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t defined what you’ll do with it.
- Someone steals content from your site and publishes it on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog making your site users aware that you are an affiliate for the product you’re marketing that you may receive a sales commission if visitors purchase it.
- You don’t spell out the terms of your refund/return policies.
- A visitor claims your testimonials are false and decides to sue you.
- You did not disclose in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your website contains adult information and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underaged persons.
Consider too the actual examples of costly compliance breaches below:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up personal information (including credit card information to complete an offer they were promoting. In addition to a significant $390,000 fine, he was also ordered to provide everyone he does business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing private information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits using software that scrapes Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% were in breach of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation of at least three 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 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 exposed to non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s imperative to make sure that your website or blog remains fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Companies
Leading online companies and government agencies that regulate trade in various countries emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of service providers.
You are required to let your site visitors know that your website complies will all laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and buyer confidence in your site, it’s also required by most companies you will do business with online.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires websites to display legal information when using many of their products. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Generating revenue online with your website with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
And even promoting your services via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell products online with companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages to your website before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for using ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you include clear disclaimers and disclosures on your site, especially if you plan to sell online with the aid of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Comply
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online reveals that many business are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As is already the case, this will most likely prompt 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 selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. you should protect your business by ensuring that your site complies with all FTC guidelines and regulations.
A number of online resources provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. We provide a number of references and links to resources at the end of this article …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to develop applications for your website users, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Apps that interface with social networking sites like Facebook also require compliance)
- If you are unsure as to whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site as an affiliate marketer, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or driving visitors to your website with Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to include on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts terminated.
- If you have ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party services require you to comply with their policies)
What Compliance Pages Should You Add To Your Site To Be Compliant?
If your web site falls short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your website will keep you out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and 3rd-party providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to look into including any of the pages listed below:
- Affiliate Disclosure (e.g. if you sell or promote affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general content about financial areas or income opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add correct disclosures to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs visitors that you are not being paid for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Notifies visitors that you will be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Discloses to your visitors that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Informs your visitors that you were compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs users that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring website publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Compliance Pages To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you should consult your lawyer and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been completed, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content for you in typical web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legals folder on your web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your server via FTP)
You can then add links to these legal pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu admin area …
Where To Display Legal Web Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and clearly visible to all visitors. You can add these to your sidebar menu (or the footer section of your site) so that users can access legal information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar here:
Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements by searching online, or by going to websites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-prepared legal forms)
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of website legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
These legal templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to add your own business details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page reflects new Federal Trade Commission guidelines that came into effect on March 2012)
- 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 WordPress page for each legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your server as described earlier.
For more details, go here:
Legal Pages – Plugins
In addition to using copy & paste legal templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal pages manually, then consider choosing WP Legal Pages …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported premium plugin that will help make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site much easier and save you a great deal of time.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the basic legal pages you need in a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like any WordPress page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed when the user agrees to your legal terms.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with every new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will display inside your navigation area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to view, create and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option of creating legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, review sites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Type of Site menu)
You can also select from several built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Pre-configured 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
Go here to learn more this plugin:
Compliance Bar Plugin is a complete compliance & disclaimer solution for your site …
For more details go 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 – 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. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
Visit this website to learn more:
If using the services of lawyers to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford professional assistance.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-drafted legal templates, or a legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you are making money online (or plan to), you need to make sure that your site is found to comply with all government laws and regulations and the terms of service and guidelines of 3rd-party sites that you may decide to promote or recommend online. Your website or blog must comply with a whole set of laws and regulatory guidelines, some of which you may not even be aware of.
Non-compliance 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, we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice on this website. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
Legal Resources And References
Below is a useful list of additional sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your site may require to stay compliant and meet legal requirements and guidelines:
- Federal Trade Commission 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
- 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
- United States 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
We hope you have found this article useful and that it has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add legal pages to your WordPress website or blog using simple and 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)