Is your WordPress site compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose services or products you are using or endorsing?
Internet laws are designed to protect consumers and apply to anyone who sells, markets or promotes goods or services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law won’t prevent someone from taking legal action against your business.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, then you must follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the Better Business Bureau, also referred to as the BBB. Search online for information about “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau)
These laws affect several online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including contextual advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
You may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
The purpose of this article is to help make you aware that your website(s) may be required to comply with various legalities, the importance of complying with the terms of service of third-party providers whose products or services you may be recommending online, and that there are plugins for WordPress that can help your site become fully compliant, such as the tools that we list further below.
Is Your Website Or Blog Breaking The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice about your website or business. Do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all laws concerning your specific business.
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider for one moment what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- Someone has a cardiac arrest after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users skin rashes.
- Your opt-in list provides a statement that lets subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you will do with it.
- Someone copies content from your website and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your website letting your site visitors know that you are marketing a product as an affiliate and may earn an affiliate commission if they buy it.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms of your refund policies.
- Online visitors claim the testimonials on your site are fake and decide to sue you because of it.
- You didn’t disclose that you received a free copy in a product review.
- Your website includes adult-related content and you have not taken appropriate measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider also these real case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up personal information (including credit card details to complete a debt reduction offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, he was also ordered to provide a copy of the judgement to everyone they do business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% were in violation of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had breached at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had breached 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 litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPC (Cost Per Conversion) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
You need to make sure that your website or blog has the right legal pages and clearly accessible to all site users.
Complying With 3rd-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
Big companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the importance of observing the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You are obligated to let your visitors know that your website complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your site, it’s also required by most companies you will interact with online.
Here are just some examples:
Google requires websites to display certain information if using their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your blogs with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your site through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell products online via merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will need to add certain legal pages to your website before your products can be approved for sale …
(ClickBank – policy requirements)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to display clear disclaimers and policy statements to visitors, especially concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Be Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many business are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As is already the case, this often results in the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by making sure that your site complies with FTC guidelines and regulations.
There are many online resources that can provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet 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 Apps
If you plan to create social networking applications that will integrate with your site, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others with information about your legal pages …
(Social networking apps also require compliance)
- If you are not sure whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of websites like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services online via affiliate marketing, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay advertising, or driving visitors to your site using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to display on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts terminated.
- If you have been wondering whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
What Compliance Information Pages Does Your Website Need To Be Legally Compliant?
If your website is falling short in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site should help keep you out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and 3rd-party service providers, and avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to consider including one or more of these legal pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides general information about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Audio/Video Terms (e.g. if you provide users with access to download media on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding the right type of disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets readers know that you will not receive compensation for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets site users know that you may be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through affiliate links on your site.
- Review/Sample Copy – Discloses to readers that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service you’re writing about by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Lets users know that you have been compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs readers 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 show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Compliance Pages To Your Website
Ideally, you should consult a lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legals directory in your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this directory via FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then easily add links to these legal pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu admin area …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and display clearly to your visitors. You can add these to your sidebar menu (or the footer section of your website or blog) to ensure that visitors have access to legal information from every page …
(It’s important to display legal information to users on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your sidebar or footer menu using widgets here:
You can easily find attorney-drafted disclosures and downloadable website forms and agreements by searching online, or going to websites like the ones shown below:
For more information, go here:
Another option is to purchase a package of legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates 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 WordPress page for every legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload these to your web server as previously described.
Visit this site to learn more:
Legal Pages – WordPress Plugins
As well as using cut & paste templates, you can simplify things by using plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress-driven websites that you may be interested in checking out:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you loads of headaches.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WordPress Legal Pages:
- Built-in Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your 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 every other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks only when users agree to your legal terms.
- New Features – More features get added to this plugin with every new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item is added to your navigation section …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
You have the option of creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, affiliate/review websites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Page type drop down menu)
You can also choose from various built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages – 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
For more details about this handy plugin, go here:
The Compliance Bar Plugin For WordPress is a complete compliance & disclaimer solution for your online presence …
For more details, visit the plugin site here:
(Legal Suite Pro)
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
- 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 secured rights to high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers and packaged them 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 less than one minute and the plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your websites.
Go here for more details:
If using the services of lawyers to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your site until you can afford a lawyer.
We want your site to be protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal page templates, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of commercial activity online (or are planning to), you need to make sure that your website complies with regulatory agencies and any terms of service (TOS) and guidelines required by 3rd-party services and products that you may be promoting or recommending online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws intended to protect the rights of consumers, 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, we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with the law wherever your business is based.
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to remain compliant and meet legal requirements and guidelines:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- FTC 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
- United States Copyright Office
See Also …
- 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 the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add legal pages to your website.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum