One of the worst predicaments you can find yourself in as a website owner is to break the law.
As digital business continues growing at an overwhelming speed and the rules of the game constantly change, it’s vitally important that you try to stay informed about what’s going on and to make sure that your website remains legally compliant, especially if having an online presence is important in the success of your overall business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites 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 agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau)
These laws has legal implications for various business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, e.g. pay-per-click advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
You may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to litigation.
This guide explains the importance of having a compliant website and describes inexpensive ways to make your WordPress site legally compliant in minutes.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. As stated previously, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of companies whose products or services you offer on your website or blog
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider for one moment what could happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A user suffers a cardiac arrest after using your online workout program.
- The skin cream you sell as an affiliate gives a number of users an adverse reaction.
- You’ve informed subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly spelled out what you plan to do with it.
- Someone steals content from your website and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting your visitors know that you’re an affiliate for the product you’re promoting that you could receive a financial benefit if visitors buy the product through your link.
- You didn’t spell out the terms and conditions of your refund and return policies.
- Online visitors claim that your testimonials are false and decide to sue you because of it.
- You haven’t disclosed that you have received a free copy of the product you are reviewing.
- Your site contains adult information and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider too these documented examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up their personal information (including credit card info to complete his offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to issue everyone he does business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits using software that scrapes UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% were in violation of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had breached 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 infringed, 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
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog complies with all laws and regulations governing the use of your site, wherever you are located.
Complying With Third-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
All of the leading websites and government regulatory agencies emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of third-party service providers.
You must let your site visitors know that your website complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of many companies you will engage with online.
Google requires you to display legal information if using many of their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Earning revenue with your sites with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your site via Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information-based products through merchants such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you will be required to add a number of legal pages before they will approve your products for selling via their network …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling through ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires you to add clear disclaimers and policy statements to visitors, especially if you plan to sell or promote products online using testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted 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 already been the case, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute site owners 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 any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. it’s best to protect your business interests by making sure that your site complies with FTC regulations.
You can find many sites that can provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to useful resources to a number of these at the end of this article …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to create applications that integrate with your website, sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Apps that integrate with social networks also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of sites like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting products or services online as an affiliate marketer, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon advertising, or driving visitors to your website using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to provide on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts shut down.
- If you’ve ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
Common Legal Pages To Include In Your Website
If you suspect that your web site lacks in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your website will help your business stay out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and external providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to consider implementing any of the pages listed below if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides health or medical information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Use Of Media (if you provide users with access to videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct web content disclosure information is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs users that you are not receiving compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets your readers be aware that you will be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample/Review Copy – Informs your readers that you have received a review or sample copy of the product you’re reviewing or writing about by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Lets your readers know that you were compensated in some form to write the post.
- 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 show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages To Your WordPress Site
Ideally, you should consult lawyers and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), 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 on your server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly visible to your visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar menu (or place them in the footer of your site) so that visitors can access the information from all your web pages …
(Display links to legal information on all of your website’s pages)
If you need help adding links to pages on your WP sidebar, refer to this tutorial:
You can easily find attorney-drafted disclosures and downloadable forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting websites like this one:
To learn more, go here:
Alternatively, you can download a package of website legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with 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 Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates new Federal Trade Commission regulations and guidelines brought into effect on March 2012)
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use: with inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page for each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as described previously.
To learn more, visit this website:
WordPress Legal Page Plugins
As well as using templates, another option is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress users you may be interested in using:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin)
If the idea of manually creating legal pages for your website seems too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WP Legal Pages instead …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you time.
Some of the reasons to consider using WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Templates – 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 just a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any WordPress page.
- Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to your website or blog pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. When a user agrees to the terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature is added to your main navigation menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
With WP Legal Pages, you can create legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites, affiliate/review websites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Create different legal pages)
Select from a number of pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – 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
To learn more about the benefits of using this plugin, visit the plugin website:
Compliance Bar is a total compliance & disclaimer solution for your web presence …
Learn more about the plugin here:
(Legal Suite Pro)
Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress 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 – 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 (even sites that you decide to sell).
Go here for more information:
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some type of basic legal protection on your site until you can afford a solicitor.
We want your business to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal documentation, or a WordPress legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you engage in any form of commercial activity online (or plan to), it’s important that your website complies with regulatory agencies and any terms of service and guidelines for 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or recommend 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 offer legal advice. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website is compliant with the law in your country or region.
Below is a useful list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to comply 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
- Better Business Bureau Website
- 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
- Google 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 legally compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your WordPress site using inexpensive methods and resources.
"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