Is your WordPress site compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose services or products you advertise or endorse?
As the cybersphere continues growing at breakneck speed and rules constantly change, it’s important that you stay on top of what’s going on and make sure that your site remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if having a digital presence is a significant aspect of your overall business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you promote anything on your website for material gain, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Do a search online for “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Better Business Bureau)
The introduction of these new laws affect several online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including display advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creation
Without legal pages on your site (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank will not allow you to list digital products on their network, PayPal may close down your account and freeze your funds, Facebook will reject your applications, and you will not be allowed to promote various advertising or online merchant networks.
If you are not in compliance, you could also end up facing a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
This article explains why it’s important to have a compliant website and shows you simple and cost-effective solutions to make your website or blog legally compliant quickly and easily.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With The Law?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice in this article. As previously stated, this article is designed only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations governing your business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of providers whose services or products you advertise
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider what could happen to your business if any of these situations were to take place:
- A user has a heart attack after using your online fitness program.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate gives people an adverse reaction.
- You’ve informed subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you have not spelled out exactly what you will do with the details you’ve collected.
- Someone copies your content and publishes it on their own website.
- There is no statement on your site making your site visitors aware that you’re an affiliate for the product you are promoting and could derive financial benefits if visitors end up purchasing using your link.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms of your refund/return policies.
- A visitor claims that the testimonials on your site are fake and decides to sue you as a result.
- You did not disclose in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your website publishes adult-related information and you have not taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underaged persons.
Consider also the real examples of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up personal information (including credit card details to complete his offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, he is now required to issue a copy of the judgement to everyone they do business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- 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 children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in breach of at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had infringed 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 cautions or lose access to the Google program with the infringement, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to be exposed to the risks of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Product Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
it’s important to ensure 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.
Compliance with 3rd-party services terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and confidence in your site, it’s also required in most cases by most companies you will interact with online.
Here are just some examples:
Google requires you to display certain information when using their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue with your websites using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense policy requirements)
Or promoting your business through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products with places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you will need to add legal pages before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for vendors selling via ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires you to include clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially when concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses 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 has already been the case, this often ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to 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. we strongly recommend protecting your business interests by making sure that your website is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
Various business resources provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site meet FTC requirements. See the additional resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to create apps that integrate with your website, you will also be required to provide sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others with information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site using affiliate marketing, or monetize your pages with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to provide on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you have ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all third-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Essential Legal Pages To Add To Your Website
If you suspect that your web site is falling short in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site will keep you out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and 3rd-party providers, and avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Terms & Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the pages above, you may want to look into adding one or more of these compliance pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website provides general health or medical content)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add the right types of disclosure pages to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs your visitors that you are not receiving compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors be aware that you may be compensated if they buy through an affiliate link.
- Sample Or review Copy – Informs users that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that informs your readers that you have been compensated in some way to write the article.
- 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 website publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Content To Your Website
Ideally, you will have a lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once these have been done, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legal directory to your server and uploading your legal pages to this directory via FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then add links to these pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Site
Make sure that your legal pages are up-to-date and clearly visible to visitors. You can insert links to your legal pages into your WordPress sidebar (or the footer of your website or blog) to ensure that visitors have access to the information from every web page …
(Display links to legal information on all of your site’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar and footer here:
You can find attorney-drafted downloadable website forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to websites like the ones shown below:
(Find Legal Forms)
For more details, visit this website:
Alternatively, you can download a package of legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Scott Talbert’s Legal Form Templates)
These templates were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with a simple quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- 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 on your website for each 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 server as previously described.
To learn more, go here:
Legal Page Plugins
As well as using legal templates, another option for adding legal pages to your site is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress users you should check out:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If creating legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider using WP Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably affordable and well-supported premium 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 WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Templates – Over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like any page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you 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. When users agree to your terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with every new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu feature will display inside your dashboard menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option of creating legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, review websites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Create different legal page types)
Select from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Built-In 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 using this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a complete compliance & disclaimer solution for your digital 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
- 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 have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress powered site. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your websites.
Visit this site for more information:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing some kind of legal protection on your site until you can afford legal services.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (for FREE!), or consider choosing one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal content, or a WordPress plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you are making money online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site remains compliant with regulatory agencies and any terms of service (TOS) and guidelines of 3rd-party services and products that you may be promoting or using online. Your website must comply with a wide range of laws and regulatory guidelines, many of which you may not be aware of.
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?
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 to ensure that your website fully complies with the law in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to better understand what your website may require to stay compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- 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
- US 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 this article has helped you understand the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add essential legal pages to your WordPress site.
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