One of the worst predicaments you can find yourself in as a business owner is to be on the wrong side of the law.
As the digital era continues to grow at such a rapid pace and the rules of the game keep changing, it’s important to try and stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your site remains legally compliant, especially if having an online presence is an important factor in your business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for commercial gain, then you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, also referred to as BBB. Search online for information about “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(BBB – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The new laws affect various business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, e.g. Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your website is not compliant, you could end up facing a multitude of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
In this guide, we look at the importance of having a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your WordPress website.
Does Your Website Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice about your website or business. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with the law in your country or region.
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Are you at risk? Consider what could happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate gives someone who purchases from your link allergic reactions.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement informing subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t defined what you’ll do with their personal details.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their own website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting your site users know that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you will earn financial benefits if they end up purchasing through your link.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund policies.
- Online visitors claim your testimonials are all fake and decide to sue you because of it.
- You haven’t disclosed that you were given a free copy in your product review.
- Your site includes adult-related content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider also the real examples of costly compliance breaches below:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up personal information to complete his offer. In addition to a significant $390,000 fine, they’re now required to provide a copy of the judgement to everyone he does business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $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 UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had infringed at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had broken 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 with the violation, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk being a target of litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
You need to make sure that your website or blog has the right legal pages and information accessible to all you site visitors.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Services Terms And Policies
Big companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the need of complying with the terms and policies of third-party service providers.
You must let your site users know that your website complies with laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will do business with.
Google requires your site to display legal information when using their products or service. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Monetizing your site using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
Or promoting your business via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell information-based products with places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your website before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for ClickBank digital product vendors)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to add clear disclaimers and statements on your site, especially when concerning the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many websites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As has already been 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 type of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with FTC guidelines.
You can find many online resources that can provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with FTC requirements. See the 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 Applications - Don’t Forget These
If you plan to create applications that integrate with your site, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others will require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Facebook apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure as to whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services on your site via affiliate marketing, or generating revenue online with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or use Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, 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 to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Essential Legal Pages You Should Add To Your Website
If you suspect that your web site falls short in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
Adding the following legal pages to your site should keep you out of trouble with many regulatory authorities and external providers, and help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above pages, you may want to consider including one or more of the pages listed below:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides advice about financial areas or income opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Audio/Video Terms (if you allow users to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct disclosure information to your site is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you’re not receiving any kind of compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets users be aware that you may be compensated if they purchase through affiliate links on your site.
- Sample/Review Copy – Informs your readers that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service you’re reviewing or writing about.
- Sponsored Post – Lets site users know that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets users 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 Pages To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you will consult lawyers or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers 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 creating a legals folder on your web server and uploading your legal pages to this folder (e.g. via FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and clearly accessible to all site visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to the sidebar menu (or place them in the footer section of your website) so that visitors will be able to access the information from all of your pages …
(It’s important to display links to legal information on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your sidebar and footer using widgets here:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-prepared forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to sites like the ones shown below:
Visit this site to learn more:
Alternatively, you can purchase a package of cut & paste legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal pages were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with simple search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal forms 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 (This proprietary FTC page reflects Federal Trade Commission regulations and guidelines brought into effect in March 2012)
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page for each legal form you want to add to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload these to your server as described earlier.
Go here for more information:
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
As well as using templates, you can simplify things by using plugins.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages)
If creating legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium 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 WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the legal pages you will need in a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – Content editor lets you edit legal pages like any page on your site.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to your WordPress pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. Page unlocks when the user agrees to your terms.
- New Features – More features get added to this plugin with each new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will appear inside your main dashboard section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view legal pages from your admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, affiliate/review sites, medical sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Create different legal page types)
You can also choose from several pre-configured 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
To learn more about this plugin, go here:
total website compliance and disclaimer solution …
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
(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 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 secured rights to high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers and packaged them into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress site. Your legal pages can be 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 the plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
Go here for more information:
If hiring a lawyer to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire a lawyer.
We want your website to be protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (it’s FREE!), or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-drafted legal forms, or a WordPress plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As stated earlier, if you make money online, it’s important that your website complies with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service for 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or use online. Your internet presence must comply with various laws and regulatory guidelines, some of which you may not 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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice in this article. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your website may require to stay compliant and meet legal obligations:
- 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
- US Copyright Office
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- 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 and easily add legal pages to your WordPress site using simple resources and plugins.
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)