Is your website legally compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, rules or regulations, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose products or services you do business with?
As the digital way of life continues to grow at an extraordinary rate and rules keep changing, it’s important to try and stay informed about what’s happening and ensure that your website or blog remains legally compliant, especially if having a digital presence is important in the success of your business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you promote anything on your website for material gain, then you will 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 called the BBB. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(BBB – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws affect several online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including contextual advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
Additionally, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
This article explains the importance of having a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your site.
Is Your Website Legally Compliant?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we are not offering 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 is compliant with all laws in your country or region.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Consider for a minute what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- Someone suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online fitness workout.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate gives a number of users allergic reactions.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement letting subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t described exactly what you will do with it.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your site making your site visitors aware that you are promoting a product as an affiliate and will earn a commission if they purchase it.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your refund policies.
- Someone claims the testimonials on your site are fake and decides to sue you because of it.
- You didn’t disclose that you have received a free copy of the product you are reviewing.
- Your website includes adult-related content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underaged children from accessing it.
Consider now these actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up personal information to complete a debt reduction 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 private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits using software that scrapes UIDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independent study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were breaking 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 infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming exposed to litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA, CPC or PPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdWords User
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s vitally important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your online business complies with all laws and regulations governing the use of your site, wherever you are located.
Complying With Third-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
Complying with 3rd-party companies terms and policies is important.
You must let your visitors know that your business complies will all laws and professional guidelines. This not only increases trust and confidence in your website, it’s also required by most companies you will engage with online.
Here are just some examples:
Google requires your site to display certain information when using their products and service. This includes using services like Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Generating revenue with your online properties with Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense - policy requirements)
Or promoting your business through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell products online with merchants such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add certain legal pages to your website before they will approve your products for selling via their marketplace …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for product vendors)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you display clear disclaimers and statements on your site, especially when concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many websites are still unaware (or choose to flaunt) 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 do any type of money-making activity 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 site is compliant with FTC regulations.
A number of business resource sites provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to useful resources at the end of this article …
(It’s important to structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to develop applications for your site, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether you may be 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 plan to promote products or services on your site via affiliate marketing, or monetizing your pages with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or driving visitors to your site using Google AdWords, 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 terminated.
- If you’ve been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
What Legal Pages Do You Need To Add To Your Website To Be Protected From Legal Compliance Issues?
If your website is lacking in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your site will help keep your business out of trouble with most consumer protection agencies and external service providers, and avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to consider adding one or more of the following pages:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general advice about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the right type of web content disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets users know that you will not receive any kind of payment for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers know that you may derive some form of financial benefit if they purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets users know that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets readers be aware that you have been compensated in some way to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs readers 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Content To Your WordPress Site
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in standard web page formatting (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legals directory to your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder (e.g. via FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu admin area …
Where To Display Legal Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are kept up-to-date and clearly accessible to visitors. You can insert these into your WordPress sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) so that visitors have access to the information from all of your pages …
(Display legal information to visitors on all of your website’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your WordPress sidebar using widgets here:
You can find downloadable attorney-prepared forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting websites like this one:
For more details, go here:
Another option is to download a package of cut & paste legal templates drafted by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Page Templates)
Cut & Paste website legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with search and replace to add your own business details, then pasted into your web 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
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- 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 WordPress page 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.
To learn more, go here:
WordPress Legal Plugins
In addition to using legal templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress-driven websites worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages)
If the idea of manually setting up legal pages for your site seems 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 an affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Some of the reasons to consider using WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Legal 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 clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages just like any page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to any of your WordPress pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. When a user agrees to your terms, the page unlocks.
- Additional Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item is added to your main navigation area …
(WP Legal Pages – Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option of creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites, review sites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Create different legal pages)
You can also choose from several built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages – Built-In 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
Visit the plugin website to learn more this powerful plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin with over 20 customizable legal templates for your online business …
(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 And Conditions
- 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 sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
If using the services of lawyers to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford professional assistance from a lawyer.
We want your site to be safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (it’s FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-drafted legal documentation, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do business online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site is compliant with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service for 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or use online. If your website isn’t compliant with laws designed to protect the rights of 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 do not provide legal advice on this website. Do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
Here is a useful list of websites we recommend you visit to better understand what may be required of your site to stay compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- Federal Trade Commission 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 – BBB
- 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
- 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 this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information above to quickly and easily add legal pages to your website.
"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