If you do any kind of business online, you do not want to learn the hard way that you have broken the law.
As digital business continues growing at an overwhelming speed and the rules of the game constantly change, it’s absolutely vital to stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your site remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if your digital presence plays a significant role in your overall business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you promote anything on your site for profit, then you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the (US based) Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online for information about “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau)
The introduction of new laws affect various online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
Without legal pages on your website (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank or JVZoo won’t let you list your digital products for sale, PayPal could suspend your account, Facebook could disapprove your web applications, and you won’t be allowed to promote a range of advertising or online marketing networks.
If your digital presence is not in compliance, you could also end up facing a multitude of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
In this article, we discuss why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and show you simple and inexpensive resources and solutions to help make your website or blog legally compliant.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. You must carry out your own due diligence and we recommend consulting a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with all legal requirements wherever your business is based.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Are you at risk? Consider what could happen to your business if any of the situations below were to happen:
- A customer has a heart attack after using your online workout program.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate marketer gives someone who purchases from your link an allergic reaction.
- You’ve told subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t clearly informed them what you plan to do with their details.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website making your visitors aware that you are an affiliate for the product you are selling that you will earn an affiliate commission if visitors purchase it.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your refund or return policies.
- A visitor claims that the testimonials on your site are false and tries to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed that you have received a free copy of a product you reviewed.
- Your website includes adult-related content and you have not taken appropriate measures to restrict access by underaged persons.
Consider also the actual case studies of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up their personal information to complete his offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to give a copy of the judgement to everyone he does business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ 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, costing them thousands of dollars 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 breaking at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had breached 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 to the Google program with the violation, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk being exposed to litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdWords User
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
it’s important 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 3rd-Party Companies
Big companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the importance of complying with the terms and policies of service providers.
You are expected to let your site visitors know that your business complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your website, it’s also required by most companies you will interact with online.
Google requires you to display certain information when using their products. This includes using features such as Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Making money online with your blogs using Google AdSense online advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your products or services through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell products online via places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will be required to add legal pages before your products can be approved for selling via their marketplace …
(Policy requirements for vendors selling via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to display clear disclaimers and statements on your site, especially when using product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site Is Compliant
New 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 flaunt) these requirements. As has happened in the past, this typically 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 type 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 ensuring that your site complies with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
You can find many resources online that can provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. See the additional resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(You must structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to create apps for your site, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others will require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Apps that interface with social networking sites also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of sites like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting services or products on your site as an affiliate marketer, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or driving visitors to your website using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to include on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you have been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
What Legal Information Do You Need To Add To Your Site To Be Compliant?
If you suspect that your web site falls short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site should help your business keep out of trouble with many regulatory authorities and third-party service providers, and even help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Terms And Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to look into implementing any of these pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- 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)
- Media Terms (e.g. if you allow media downloads 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 – This lets site users know that you will not receive compensation for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets users be aware that you will be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through an affiliate link.
- Sample Or review Copy – Discloses to users that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service you’re reviewing or writing about by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Informs readers that you were compensated in some form to write the post.
- 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 show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you should consult your lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been done, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers 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 creating a legals directory on your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add links to your pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu feature …
Where To Display Legal Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are up-to-date and clearly visible to visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar (or the footer of your website or blog) so that users have access to legal information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages on all of your site’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial on displaying links to pages on your sidebar and footer menu using widgets, see this tutorial:
Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted internet forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting websites like this one:
To learn more, go here:
Another option is to download a set of legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal templates were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with simple search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service & 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 each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload these to your server as previously described.
Legal Pages – WordPress Plugins
As well as using copy & paste templates, you can simplify things by using WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress users you should check out:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal web pages manually, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported premium plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you many headaches.
Here are just some of the reasons to consider using WP Legal Pages:
- Pre-written Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very 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 mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages like any other page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog 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 any other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. When the user agrees to the terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- Additional Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will display inside your dashboard area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
With WP Legal Pages, you can create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, niche sites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Page type menu)
Select from various built-in 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
Visit this site to learn more about the benefits of using this powerful plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress-powered sites with over 20 customizable legal templates for your online business …
Learn more about the plugin here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress)
Legal Suite Pro 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
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin – 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 have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers 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 plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
Go here for more information:
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some type of legal protection on your website until you can afford professional assistance.
We want your website to be legally protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal documents, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online, you need to ensure that your site stays compliant with legal requirements of government agencies that regulate online business practices and any guidelines and terms of service for 3rd-party sites that you may decide to promote or use online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws intended to protect consumer rights, 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements pertaining to your business.
Here is a useful list of sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what may be required of your site 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
- 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 compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly add essential legal pages to your website using simple methods, resources and 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