Is your WordPress site legally compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose products or services you recommend or sell?
Online laws and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes products or services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not excuse you from being slapped with a legal notice.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, then you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the Better Business Bureau, also referred to as the BBB. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
The introduction of new laws has legal implications for various business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, including Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
In addition, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
The purpose of this article is to make you aware that your website(s) may be required to comply with legal requirements, the importance of being compliant with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose products or services you may be using online, and that there are plugin-based solutions for WordPress that can help your online properties become fully compliant, such as the tools discussed further below.
Does Your Website Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice in this article. You must carry out your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Are you at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be if the following situations were to happen:
- Someone suffers a heart attack after using your online workout program.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate gives people an allergic reaction.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement that lets subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t described exactly what you will do with their details.
- Someone copies content from your website and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog making visitors aware that you are marketing a product as an affiliate and could get paid an affiliate commission if they buy it.
- You have not spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund or return policies.
- A visitor claims the testimonials on your site are all fake and tries to sue you because of it.
- You haven’t disclosed that you were given a free copy of a product you are reviewing.
- Your site includes adult-related information and you did not take sufficient measures to restrict access by underage persons.
Consider also these real case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up their personal information (including credit card details to complete a debt reduction offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping Users IDs. Many 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 websites chosen at random, more than 90% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in breach of at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation of 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 cautions or lose access to the Google program whose policies they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how you could easily be exposed to the risk of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
it’s important to ensure that your website or blog remains fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Services
Compliance with third-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site users know that your business complies with laws and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you do business with online.
Google requires websites to display legal information if using their products. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Earning revenue with your sites using Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
And even promoting your products through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information products with merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages before they will approve your products for sale in their marketplace …
(Policy requirements for ClickBank vendors)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you add clear disclaimers and policy statements on your site, especially concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Be Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many business are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As documented on their website, this typically ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of business 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 interests by ensuring that your site is compliant with FTC regulations and guidelines.
You can find many business resource sites that can provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to resources to some of these at the end of this article …
(Structuring 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 applications that integrate with your site, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and 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 not sure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting products or services online as an affiliate marketer, or making money online with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to provide on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you have ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all 3rd-party services require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
Basic Legal Pages To Include In Your Website
If your website falls short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site should keep you out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and third-party service providers, and avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above pages, you may want to look into adding any of the pages listed below:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides information about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right disclosures to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs your readers that you’re not receiving any kind of compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets users be aware that you will receive compensation if they act on your recommendation and purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample Or review Copy – Lets your visitors be aware that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets site users be aware that you were compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs visitors 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.
Adding Legal Pages To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal content for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legal folder in your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder (e.g. using FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your web server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add a link to your legal pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
Displaying Legal Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to all site visitors. You can insert these into your WordPress sidebar (or the footer of your website or blog) to ensure that users have access to legal information from all of your site’s pages …
(It’s important to display links to legal information to users on all of your website’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar and footer in WordPress using widgets here:
Using Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and internet forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to sites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms)
For more information, go here:
Another option is to download a set of website legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a quick search and replace to insert your own business name and URL, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your server as described previously.
For more details, go here:
Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using legal templates, you can simplify things using a plugin.
Here are some plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If the idea of setting up legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WP Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will make the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site a lot easier and save you a great deal of time.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages just like any page on your site.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to your website or blog pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any other WP page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks only when user agrees to your terms.
- Additional Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will be added to your WordPress dashboard menu section …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, niche websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Create different legal pages)
Choose from several built-in legal templates …
(WordPress 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
Go here for more information about the benefits of using this plugin:
complete website compliance and disclaimer solution …
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
(Legal Suite Pro)
Legal Suite Pro 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 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 license allows you to install and use this plugin on all of your websites.
Visit this website to learn more:
If using the services of lawyers to create your legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal firm.
We want your site to be legally protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator lets you quickly generate essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do business online, it’s important that your website stays compliant with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service (TOS) for 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or offering online. Your digital presence must comply with a whole range of 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 a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements wherever your business is based.
Additional Legal Information
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your business requires to stay compliant and meet legal obligations:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Better Business Bureau Website
- 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
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- Google 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information above to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your site.
"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