Is your WordPress site legal? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you are offering or promoting?
Online laws and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes goods and services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not protect someone from taking legal action against your business.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites clearly state that if you promote anything on your website for commercial gain, 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 for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The introduction of these new laws has legal implications for several online business categories, including:
- Any form of advertising, including Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
If your website does not display certain pages (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, earning disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites like Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank or JVZoo won’t allow you to sell digital products, PayPal could suspend your account, Facebook will reject your applications, and you will not be allowed to participate in a range of advertising and online marketing networks.
If your digital presence is not in compliance, you could face a multitude of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
This article explains why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your WordPress site using simple methods, resources and plugins.
Does Your Website Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice about your website or business. As previously stated, this article is designed only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal policies in accordance with federal, regional or local laws that govern your business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of third-party companies whose products or services you recommend
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Consider for a moment what could happen to your business if any of the following scenarios were to occur:
- A user suffers a heart attack after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care creams you promote as an affiliate marketer gives people an allergic reaction.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement letting subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you have not informed them exactly what you will do with it.
- Someone steals content from your website and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website telling your visitors that you are an affiliate for the product you’re promoting and may derive a sales commission if visitors buy using your link.
- You have not spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund/return policies.
- Online visitors claim the testimonials on your site are all fake and decide to sue you as a result.
- You have not disclosed in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your website includes adult information and you did not take appropriate measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider too the real examples of costly compliance breaches listed below:
- 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. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to issue 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 children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% were in violation 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 breach 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 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 you could easily become exposed to the risk of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
It’s vitally important to make sure that your website remains legally compliant.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Companies Terms And Policies
Complying with 3rd-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site visitors know that your business complies with legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and confidence in your site, it’s also required in most cases by most companies you do business with online.
Google requires you to display certain information when using many of their services and product features. This includes using services such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Monetizing your site with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your business using Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information products through places like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will be required to add certain legal pages before they will approve your products for selling via their networks …
(Policy requirements for selling products via ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policy statements to visitors, especially if you plan to sell online using product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Comply
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will reveal that many business are unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As documented on their website, this often prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute site owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind 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 interests by making sure that your website complies with FTC regulations.
Various online resources 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 at the end of this article …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of the law)
Social Media Applications - Don’t Forget These
If you plan to develop apps for your website users, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote services or products online using affiliate marketing, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon advertising, or driving visitors to your site using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to provide on your site to comply with all 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.
What Legal Pages Do I Need To Add To My Website To Be Legally Compliant?
If you suspect that your website or blog is falling short in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your website will help keep you out of trouble with most consumer protection agencies and third-party service providers, and help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- Terms & Conditions
- Website Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to consider including one or more of these legal pages:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides health or medical information)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (if you provide users with access to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the right type of disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets visitors be aware that you’re not being paid for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers know that you will be compensated if they purchase through an affiliate link.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Disclosure that informs readers that you have received a sample or review copy of the product by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets site users be aware that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets readers know 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 Site
Ideally, you will consult your lawyer and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Site
If someone prepares 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 them for you.
We recommend adding a legal folder to your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this directory via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add links to your legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly visible to all site visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar (or the footer section of your site) to ensure that visitors have access to legal information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to your legal information to visitors on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your sidebar menu, refer to this step-by-step tutorial:
Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can easily find attorney-drafted disclosures and downloadable forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting websites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-prepared legal forms)
To learn more, go here:
Alternatively, you can purchase a package of cut and paste legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance (This proprietary FTC page reflects new FTC regulations brought into effect in March 2012)
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your web server as described earlier.
For more details, go here:
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
As well as using legal templates, another option for adding legal pages to your website is to use plugins.
Here are some great legal WordPress plugins that you should check out:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If setting up legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider using a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s an affordable 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 a great deal of time.
Some of the reasons to consider using WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – 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 all legal pages like any other page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to your WordPress pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WP page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. When a user agrees to your legal terms, the page unlocks.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will display inside your navigation section …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, review websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Type of Site dropdown menu)
Select from various pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – 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 to learn more about using this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a total compliance & disclaimer solution for your online presence …
For more details, visit the plugin site here:
(Legal Suite Pro 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 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 the plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
For more information, visit this site:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your site until you can afford a solicitor.
We want your website to be legally protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (it’s FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to quickly generate necessary legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As stated earlier, if you are making money online (or plan to), you need to make sure that your website stays compliant with regulatory agencies and any terms of service and guidelines provided by third-party services and products that you may be promoting or endorsing online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws intended to protect consumer rights, you’re breaking the law.
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 provide no legal advice on this website. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website fully complies with the law wherever your business is based.
Legal Resources & References
Here is a useful list of additional sites we recommend you visit to help you better understand what your business requires to stay 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
- 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
- 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
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 essential legal pages to your WordPress website or blog using simple legal resources and WordPress plugins.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now