Is your website compliant? Do you know if you are breaking any rules or regulations, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose products or services you are endorsing or using?
Internet laws, regulations, and guidelines were designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who sells, markets or promotes products or services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law will not prevent you from being slapped with a legal notice.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you promote anything on your site for material gain, you need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory 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.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws has legal ramifications for several business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, like PPC advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If there are no legal pages on your site (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank or JVZoo won’t allow you to list digital products, PayPal may suspend your account and freeze your funds, Facebook will suspend your applications, and you won’t be allowed to promote a range of advertising or online marketing networks.
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
This guide explains why it’s important to have a compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your website or blog.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not offer legal advice. As previously stated, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal policies in accordance with federal, regional or local laws and regulations that govern business online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of providers whose services or products you recommend
Why Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant Is Important
Is your business at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A person has a heart attack after purchasing your online fitness program.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate gives people skin rashes.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you will do with the details you have collected.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their own website.
- There is no statement on your site making your visitors aware that you’re an affiliate for the product you’re selling and may receive financial benefits if visitors buy it via your link.
- You didn’t spell out the conditions of your refund/return policies.
- A visitor claims your testimonials are all fake and tries to sue you because of it.
- You have not disclosed that you were given a free copy in a product review.
- Your site contains adult-related content and you haven’t taken appropriate measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider now these documented examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up personal information (including credit card information to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private details.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many 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 broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had broken at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in breach 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 with warnings or lose access entirely 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 risk becoming exposed to non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Marketer
- AdWords User
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s vitally important to make sure that your digital presence has the right legal pages and clearly displayed to all you site users.
Complying With Third-Party Services Terms And Policies
Complying with third-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are expected to let your visitors know that your website complies will all laws and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will engage with.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires you to display certain information when using their services and features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Earning revenue with your blog with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
Or promoting your products through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information products via merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will be required to add a number of legal pages to your site before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for selling digital products through ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you add clear disclaimers and disclosures on your site, especially regarding the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Be Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many sites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As has happened in the past, this typically ends up with 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 do any kind of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business interests by making sure that your website is compliant with FTC guidelines and regulations.
You can find many online resources that can provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with FTC requirements. See the references and resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you plan to create social networking applications that will integrate with your site, you will also be required to provide sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others with information about various legal pages …
(Apps that integrate with social networks also require compliance)
- If you are unsure as to 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 anything on your site using affiliate marketing, or monetizing your pages 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 include on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts suspended.
- If you’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all third-party services require you to comply with their policies)
Common Legal Pages To Include In Your Site
If you suspect that your web site is falling short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site will help keep you out of trouble with many regulatory authorities and 3rd-party providers, and avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms And Conditions
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to consider including any of the pages listed below where applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general health or medical content)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Video/Audio Terms (if you provide users with access to download videos or audio files on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right types of disclosure pages to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you’re not being paid for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Notifies visitors that you will derive some form of financial or similar form of benefit if they act on your recommendation and buy through your affiliate links.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Informs users that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Informs readers that you have been compensated in some form 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 Pages Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should have a lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once these have been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Site
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content 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 folder (e.g. via FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are kept up-to-date and clearly visible to all visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar menu (or the footer of your website or blog) to ensure that users have access to the information from all pages …
(Display links to your legal information on all of your site’s pages)
If you need help displaying links to pages on your sidebar or footer, see this tutorial:
Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements by searching online, or visiting sites like the ones listed below:
(Find Legal Forms)
For more information, go here:
Alternatively, you can download a set of website legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
Cut & Paste website legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for every legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as previously described.
Go here for more info:
Legal Pages – Plugins
As well as using cut & paste templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress sites worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If the idea of setting up legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider using a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced 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.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the basic legal pages you need in a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when user agrees to your legal terms.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with each new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu feature is added to your navigation menu …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Screen)
You have the option of easily creating legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, review websites, medical sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Page type menu)
Select from various pre-configured legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – 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
Go here to learn more about using this handy plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress-powered sites with over twenty customizable legal templates for your site …
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
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 of Service
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin 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. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the license allows you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, then consider at least implementing some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford professional legal services.
We want your site to be safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (for FREE!), or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal page templates, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator allows you to easily generate basic legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do any kind of business online, you need to ensure that your website remains compliant with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service required by 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or offer online. If your website isn’t compliant with laws designed to protect consumers, 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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice in this article. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with the law pertaining to your specific business.
Here is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to remain 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
- 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the importance of having a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress website or blog.
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