Is your website compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose services or products you are offering or endorsing?
As the digital realm continues to grow at an overwhelming speed and the rules keep changing, it’s vital that you stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your website remains legally compliant, especially if your digital presence plays an important role in your overall business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, such as the US-based BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The new laws affect various business categories, including:
- Any form of advertising, including contextual ads
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If you are not compliant, you could also end up facing 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 website.
Does Your Site Comply With The Law?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice. Do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all laws and regulations wherever you do business.
The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Are you at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness workout.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not informed them exactly what you plan to do with their personal details.
- Someone steals content from your website and puts it up on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog informing your visitors that you are marketing a product as an affiliate that you could earn financial benefits if visitors buy it.
- You did not spell out the terms and conditions of your return policies.
- A visitor claims that the testimonials on your site are fake and tries to sue you.
- You have not disclosed in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your site contains adult-related content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underaged children from accessing it.
Consider now these documented examples of costly compliance breaches:
- 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. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with 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 does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% had infringed 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 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 entirely 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 easy it is to risk becoming targeted for litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdWords User
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your online business is legally compliant.
Complying With 3rd-Party Services
Leading online companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the need of complying with the terms and policies of third-party service providers.
You must let your visitors know that your website complies with all necessary legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and confidence in your site, it’s also a requirement of many companies you do business with.
Google requires websites to display certain information when using their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your website using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense policy requirements)
And even promoting your services using Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell digital products using places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add certain legal pages to your website before your products are approved for sale in their network …
(Policy requirements for using ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to display clear disclaimers and policies to visitors, especially if you plan to use testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
New 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 documented on their website, this often results in the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting companies in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by making sure that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations.
You can find many 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 to a number of these at the end of this article …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to create apps that will integrate with your website, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services on your site as an affiliate marketer, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, ads for Amazon or eBay products, or using Google AdWords pay-per-click ads to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to include on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts suspended.
- If you’ve ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
What Compliance Information Should You Add To Your Website To Be Insured Against Legal Compliance Issues?
If you suspect that your website is lacking in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your website will keep you out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and 3rd-party providers, and even help you avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Terms And Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above pages, you may want to look into adding one or more of these compliance pages:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides financial advice)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Audio/Video Terms (if you allow media downloads on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right disclosure information to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets users be aware that you will not receive for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors know that you will receive compensation if they buy through one of your affiliate links.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Lets your readers be aware that you have been given a review or sample copy of the product you’re reviewing or writing about by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Lets your visitors be aware that you have been compensated in some form to write the content.
- 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.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your WordPress Site
Ideally, you will have a lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been done, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages To Your Site
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legals folder in your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your web server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Pages On Your Site
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and display clearly to all visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar (or place them in the footer of your website) so that visitors have access to legal information from all pages …
(Display links to your legal information on all of your website’s pages)
If you need help adding links to pages on your WP sidebar or footer, see this step-by-step tutorial:
Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-drafted legal forms)
For more information, go here:
Another option is to download a package of website legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates)
Cut & Paste website legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to insert your own business name and URL, then pasted into your legal pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates FTC guidelines that came into effect in 2012)
- 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 website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload these to your web server as described earlier.
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
As well as using templates, you can keep things very simple using WordPress plugins.
Here are some plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If the idea of manually setting up legal pages for your website feels too time-consuming for you, then consider installing a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages instead …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you many headaches.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Templates – Over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages like every other page on your site.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your WordPress pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other WP page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when users agree to your legal terms.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu feature will be added to your main navigation area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option of creating legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, niche websites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Create different legal pages)
You can also select from a number of pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress 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
Go here to learn more about the benefits of using this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress users that contains over 20 customizable compliance templates for your website …
For more details go 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 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 site. You can have legal pages 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 sites.
If using the services of a lawyer to create your online legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some kind of basic legal protection on your site until you can afford to hire the services of a legal firm.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or consider choosing one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal templates, or a plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to easily generate essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As stated earlier, if you do business online, it’s important that your website is compliant with all legal requirements and the guidelines and terms of service (TOS) provided by 3rd-party sites that you may be promoting or recommending online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws designed to protect consumers, you’re breaking the law.
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 offer no legal advice. 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 concerning your specific business.
References And Resources
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your business requires to remain compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission 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
- United States 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
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 all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website.
"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group