One of the worst things that can happen to a business owner is to break the law.
As the cybersphere continues growing at an overwhelming speed and the rules keep changing, it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your site remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if your online presence is an essential part of your business strategy.
Recent 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, then you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws has implications for various online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including PPC advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your site does not display certain legal pages to visitors (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, earning disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites like Google won’t let you advertise, sites like ClickBank will not allow you to list digital products, PayPal could shut down your account, Facebook could disapprove your web applications, and you will not be allowed to enrol in various advertising and affiliate merchant networks.
If your business online is not compliant, you could face a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
In this article, we look at why it’s important to have a compliant website and how to quickly add legal pages to your website.
Is Your Website Compliant?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice on this website. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with the law wherever you do business.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Is your business at risk? Consider what could happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness program.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users skin rashes.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you plan to do with their personal details.
- Someone copies content from your site and publishes it on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog making your site visitors aware that you’re an affiliate for the product you’re selling and will derive a financial benefit if visitors buy products using your affiliate link.
- You haven’t spelled out the conditions of your refund policies.
- A visitor claims that your testimonials are fake and decides to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your site includes adult-related information and you haven’t taken appropriate measures to restrict access by underage persons.
Consider too these documented examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up their 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 private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping Users IDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it 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 websites picked at random, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in breach of 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 with warnings or lose access entirely to the Google program whose policies they had infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how a website owner can easily be exposed to the risk of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s vitally important to ensure that your online business stays fully compliant with the law.
Complying With 3rd-Party Companies
Big companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of service providers.
You are required to let your visitors know that your business complies with all necessary legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will interact with.
Google requires websites to display legal information when using their services or product features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Monetizing your WordPress sites with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your site through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell information-based products with merchants such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you are required to add a number of legal pages before your products are approved for selling via their networks …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for digital product sellers)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to add clear disclaimers and policies on your website, especially regarding the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
New 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 has happened in the past, this often results in the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting companies for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take 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 FTC guidelines and regulations.
You can find many business resource sites that can provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. See the references and resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to develop applications that will integrate with your website, you will also be required to provide sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others with information about various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are not sure whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site as an affiliate marketer, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or driving visitors to your site 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 to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you have ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all 3rd-party services require you to comply with their policies)
Common Legal Pages You Should Include In Your Site To Ensure Compliance
If you suspect that your web site is falling short in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your site should help your site keep out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and 3rd-party service providers, and avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to consider including any of these pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides general information about financial areas or money-making opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Use Of Media (if you allow media downloads on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the correct types of disclosure pages to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets your visitors know that you will not receive any form of payment for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Informs readers that you may benefit financially if they act on your recommendation and purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample/Review Copy – Explains to your visitors that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product you’re reviewing by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Lets your readers be aware that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages Content To Your Website
Ideally, you should consult a lawyer 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.
Upload Legal Web Pages To Your Site
If someone prepares the legal content for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legal folder to your server and uploading your legal pages to this directory via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your web server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then add links to your pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu admin area …
Displaying Legal Pages On Your Site
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and display clearly to all visitors. You can add these to your sidebar (or place them in the footer of your site) to ensure that visitors have access to the information from all your pages …
(Display links to your legal information to visitors on all of your site’s pages)
To learn more about adding links to pages on your sidebar menu, refer to this step-by-step tutorial:
Use Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted website forms and agreements by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-prepared legal forms)
Visit this site to learn more:
Another option is to purchase a set of cut & paste legal templates created by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates)
Cut & Paste website templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your server as previously described.
Legal Pages – Plugins
In addition to using templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress websites worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If the idea of creating legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported plugin that will make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site much easier and save you time.
Here are just some of the reasons to consider using WP Legal Pages:
- Pre-written Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the basic legal pages you need in a few minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages just like every other WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when user agrees to your legal terms.
- Additional Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will be added to your dashboard area …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Area)
With WP Legal Pages, you have the option of easily creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, affiliate sites, medical sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Type of Site menu)
Select from a number of pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Pre-configured 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 this WordPress plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress sites containing over 20 customizable legal templates for your digital presence …
For an in-depth review of this plugin go here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin 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
- 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 have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers 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 less than one minute and the plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell).
If hiring legal experts to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your website until you can afford a lawyer.
We want your business to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal forms, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to quickly generate basic legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site is found to comply with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service (TOS) provided by 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or using online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws intended to protect consumer rights, you’re breaking the law.
Non-compliance 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 offer legal advice here. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
Additional Legal Information
Below is a useful list of additional sites we recommend you visit to better understand what your website may require to remain compliant and meet its 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
- 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
- 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your WordPress site using simple solutions.
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