One of the worst things that can happen to a business owner is to be on the wrong side of the law.
Online laws, regulations, and guidelines are designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes goods or services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements won’t excuse someone from taking legal action against your business.
New laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you promote anything on your site for commercial gain, you will need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the US-based 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.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The introduction of new laws has legal implications for various online business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, like Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to litigation.
The purpose of this guide is to help make you aware that your site may be subject to certain legal requirements in accordance with the laws that govern business practices online, the importance of complying with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose services or products you may be endorsing on your site, and that there are easy solutions that can help your websites become fully compliant, such as the plugins discussed further below.
Does Your Site Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice in this article. Do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all laws and regulations pertaining to your business.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Are you at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a heart attack after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users allergic reactions.
- You’ve told your subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t clearly informed them what you plan to do with their personal details.
- Someone copies content from your website and puts it up on their website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting visitors know that you are an affiliate for the product you’re marketing and will derive financial benefits if they purchase it.
- You have not spelled out the conditions of your refund or return policies.
- Your visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are misleading and try to sue you as a result.
- You did not disclose that you were given a free copy in your product review.
- Your website contains adult content and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underage persons.
Consider also 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. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ 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 randomly-picked websites, 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% had infringed 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 to the Google program they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how you could be exposed to the risk of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
it’s important to make sure that your digital presence stays legally compliant.
Complying With Third-Party Companies Terms And Policies
Leading online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You are expected to let your site users know that your website complies with legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and buyer confidence in your site, it’s also a requirement of most companies you interact with online.
Google requires your site to display legal information if using their products and features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Monetizing your websites using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
And even promoting your site using Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell digital products via places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your website before your products are approved for sale …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policy statements to visitors, especially regarding the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Website Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many business are unaware (or choose to flaunt) 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 plan to do any kind of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with FTC regulations.
A number of online business resources provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help you comply with FTC requirements. See the resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Applications Also Require Compliance
If you are planning to develop social networking applications that integrate with your site, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others will require you to provide access to your legal pages …
(Social networking apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether you may be 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 are considering promoting services or products on your site via affiliate marketing, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or use Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to display on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you have ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
Essential Legal Pages To Include In Your Site To Ensure Compliance
If your website is lacking in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your site will help keep your business out of trouble with most consumer protection agencies and third-party providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- Terms & Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the pages above, you may want to look into adding one or more of the pages listed below where applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general information about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (if you allow users to download media on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the correct types of disclosure pages to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – Disclosure that informs users that you will not receive any kind of compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers be aware that you may derive some form of financial or similar type of benefit if they purchase through your affiliate links.
- Sample Or review Copy – Lets users be aware that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Informs visitors that you have been compensated in some form to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets your visitors 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 website publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Content To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
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 them for you.
We recommend adding a legals folder to your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your server using FTP)
You can then add links to your legal pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu administration …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can insert these into the WordPress sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your website or blog) to ensure that visitors will be able to access the information from all your pages …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your WP sidebar using widgets here:
You can easily find attorney-drafted disclosures and downloadable internet forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms)
To learn more, go here:
Another option is to download a set of cut & paste legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Page Templates)
Cut & Paste website templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use: includes inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
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 these to your server as previously described.
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
In addition to using cut & paste legal templates, you can simplify things using WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress-powered websites and blogs worth looking into:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal web pages manually, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported plugin that will make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you time.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like any page on your site.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of 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 or post lock down. Page unlocks when users agree to your terms.
- Additional Features – More features get added to this plugin with each new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will be added to your dashboard area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from your admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Screen)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, review sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Page type menu)
Select from a number of pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages – Pre-configured 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 using this useful plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar Plugin is a total compliance and disclaimer solution for your site …
(Legal Suite Pro For WordPress)
Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress 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 & Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin 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 powered site. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the license allows you to install and use the plugin on all of your websites.
To learn more, visit this website:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal pages is out of your budget, consider implementing some basic form of legal protection on your website until you can afford professional legal services.
We want your business to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal documentation, or a WordPress legal pages plugin 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, you need to make sure that your site stays compliant with legal requirements of government agencies that regulate online business practices and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines required by third-party services and products that you may decide to promote or use online. Your digital presence must comply with a number of regulations, some of which you may not even be aware of.
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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice on our website. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to better understand what may be required of your website to remain compliant and meet its 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
- 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
- United States 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 this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress site using simple methods and resources.
"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