Is your WordPress website legal? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, rules or regulations, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose services or products you do business with?
Online laws were 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 the law will not excuse you from being slapped with a legal notice.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for material gain, you must follow certain principles of disclosure 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 these new laws has ramifications for several business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including PPC advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If there are no legal pages on your website (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, financial disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites like Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank won’t allow you to list digital products, PayPal may close down your account, Facebook will reject your web applications, and you will not be allowed into most advertising and online marketing networks.
If your business online is not in compliance, you could face a whole range of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
The purpose of this article is to make you aware that your site are required to comply with certain legalities, the importance of being compliant with the terms of service of third-party providers whose services or products you may be endorsing online, and that there are plugin-based solutions for WordPress users that can help your websites become compliant, such as the tools that we discuss further below.
Is Your Site Breaking The Law?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice on this website. You must carry out your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with all laws wherever your business operates in.
Why Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant Is Important
Consider for one minute what the implications to your business would be if any of the situations below were to happen:
- Someone suffers a cardiac arrest after they use your online fitness program.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate gives people skin rashes.
- You’ve informed your subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you’ll do with the information you’ve collected.
- Someone copies your content and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website making your site visitors aware that you are recommending a product as an affiliate that you may receive financial benefits if visitors purchase it.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund/return policies.
- Online visitors claim the testimonials on your site are fake and try to sue you.
- You have not disclosed that you were given a free copy in a product review.
- Your website contains adult-related information and you have not taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underaged persons.
Consider also the documented examples of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would have to give up personal information to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a whopping $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 using software that scrapes Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% were in breach of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation of 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 notices or lose access entirely to the Google program they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how a business owner can easily be exposed to the risk of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA, CPC or PPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
It’s vitally important to ensure that your website or blog complies with all laws and regulations governing the use of your site, wherever you are located.
Compliance With Third-Party Services Terms And Policies
Compliance with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site users know that your website complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will do business with online.
Google requires websites to display certain information if using their products or features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Monetizing your sites using Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
Or promoting your products or services through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products via places like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for vendors selling through ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you include clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially when concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many websites are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As is already the case, this typically ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting website owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any kind of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. you should protect your business by ensuring that your website is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
You can find many sites that can provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your site meet 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 will integrate with your website, you will also be required to provide sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others with information about your legal pages …
(Facebook apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services online using affiliate marketing, or make money online with Google AdSense, ads for Amazon or eBay products, or driving visitors to your website with Google AdWords, 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 - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you’ve been wondering whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
What Compliance Information Do You Need To Add To Your Website To Be Compliant?
If you suspect that your website or blog is falling short in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your website should help keep you out of trouble with many regulatory authorities and third-party providers, and avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Terms & Conditions
- Website Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above pages, you may want to consider including one or more of these compliance pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides money-making information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Video/Audio Terms (e.g. if you allow users to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct disclosure information to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Discloses to users that you’re not receiving compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors be aware that you may receive compensation if they buy through an affiliate link.
- Review/Sample Copy – Discloses to site users that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Informs users that you have been compensated in some form to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs your visitors that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you will have your lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been 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 HTML format, you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend creating a legals folder on your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu administration …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and clearly visible to all visitors. You can insert links to your legal pages into the sidebar (or the footer section of your website) so that visitors can access legal information from every page …
(It’s important to display links to your legal pages to visitors on all of your site’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar or footer using widgets, refer to this tutorial:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and forms and agreements just by searching online, or going to websites like this one:
Go here to learn more:
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Scott Talbert’s Legal Page Templates)
These templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a simple quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your legal pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want to add to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as described earlier.
Legal Page Plugins
As well as using copy & paste legal templates, another option is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal WordPress plugins that you may be interested in using:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If manually setting up legal pages for your site feels too time-consuming for you, then consider installing a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you time.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WordPress Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like any page on your website.
- 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. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other page on your website.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. Page unlocks when user agrees to your terms.
- Additional Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will be added to your main navigation menu …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
With WP Legal Pages, you can create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, niche websites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Type of Site drop down menu)
Choose from various pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – 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 the benefits of using this handy plugin, visit this website:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress-powered sites containing over 20 customizable compliance page templates for your site …
(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 powered site. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
For more information, go here:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some kind of basic legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal expert.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or consider choosing one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal documents, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator Software lets you easily generate essential legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and optional Earnings Disclaimer.
As stated earlier, if you are making money online, you need to make sure that your site is compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines of third-party sites that you may be promoting or using online. Your website must comply with a number of regulations, many 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 are not offering legal advice here. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
Here is a time-saving list of websites we recommend you visit to better understand what may be required of your website to stay compliant and meet legal requirements and guidelines:
- Federal Trade Commission Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- 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
- US 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 why it’s important to have a legally compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress site using simple and inexpensive solutions.
"I love the way your email series "Infinite Web Content Creation Training Series" is documented and presented. It is very absorbing and captivating. The links and tutorials are interesting and educational. This has motivated me to rewrite my content following the concepts I am learning from the email series." - Mani Raju, www.fortuneinewaste.com