You need to create a few specific legal pages for your website that should be linked to from the footer of your blog or website – even if you’re using a free option like with Google’s Blogger platform. It’s not fun to create these, but they are essential.
Think of it like hygiene. It’s just something your visitors are going to expect, it helps protect you from a legal standpoint and in this free guide I’m going to give some advice on how to create them. So what legal pages should a website have exactly?
Please note that I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Once your website is generating money I strongly suggest sitting down with an accountant and a lawyer to properly craft these pages.
The legal pages your website needs
If you are going to engage in affiliate marketing it’s also a good idea to be totally transparent about any business relationships you have that may not otherwise be apparent.
A good strategy on your blog content is to put a generic disclaimer that you engage in affiliate marketing and to then link directly to a disclosure page. With that out of the way, here are the pages you’ll need to make for a website:
- For example, when you create your own website it will record web traffic and keep a log of it. You can also install web analytic software to track web visitors to your site so you know how many visitors a day you are receiving, what pages they hit the most, how long they stay on the site etc. EVERY website uses tracking software – but you still need to disclose this.
- Specifically mention that you will not share personal information and disclose what information you actually have access to. You normally only have access to an IP address.
- If you are running an email list then people who sign up are giving you their email addresses. State this and also state you will not sell or share this information (unless you are!).
So, no need to go into legal speak. Simply inform your visitors of any tracking software you have, Adsense or ad programs and what data they collect, what you do with your email list and any other information gathering you do or a 3rd party (like Adsense) does.
Terms and conditions
- It’s like inviting people over your house, just say what you expect from your visitors.
- For a content site key focuses are if your site is copyrighted or not. If it is, then say it is and tell people what they are allowed to do. Normally that it’s fine to link to my site, but not acceptable to copy or sell content.
- Also tell the user they are responsible for what they do, don’t do, or neglect to do with your content.
The point of a disclosure page is to disclose and make certain interests obvious that otherwise might not be. While not required, it’s a good idea to create such a page that you can link to from any content where you’re engaging in affiliate marketing.
- Disclose how your website makes money.
- Disclose any conflicts of interest.
- Disclose any form of compensation you receive. An example would be if you run a travel site and companies occasionally pay you to visit their hotel and accommodation for a review. That needs to be disclosed. If you receive payment for any products or services you recommend. That needs to be disclosed.
- Again, compensation and conflicts of interest that might not otherwise be obvious need to be disclosed.
Again, don’t try to sound lawyerly (unless you are a lawyer). Use plain speak. Also, these pages become more important the higher traffic your website becomes. Particularly if your blog ever becomes a business.
A Refund Policy is a clause that should appear in your “Terms and Condition” and condition page, but it’s such an important policy to be upfront with your customers about that I do suggest just creating a separate page entirely.
Your refund policy should make clear the following:
- Are there any time restrictions on returns?
- Who is responsible for the return shipping?
- What is the requirement for a return to be accepted?
- What if something goes wrong and goods are damaged or do not match the description?
- How long does it take you to complete a return?
- When will the consumer get his or her money back if a return is accepted?
Are you going to allow blog comments on your website? If so then it’s prudent to create a comment policy page that explains what type of comments are allowed and what comments will be deleted.
You can control your remarks as long as you do it consistently and without breaking anti-discrimination laws. As a business owner and blogger if you don’t have a clear, uniformly applied Comment Policy that details when, why, and how you delete comments, you open yourself up to legal risk.
You can choose what kinds of comments you will accept and what you will remove with the exception that you are not able to discriminate on the basis of certain protected grounds, such as race, religion, gender, or so on.
Your comment policy should explain:
- What type of comments are permitted and what will be deleted.
- Is there any way to appeal if a comment gets deleted?
- Who owns the copyright over the comment as it is now user generated content?
- Who makes the call on what comments get deleted?
Legal Pages Conclusion
You’ll want to protect yourself and know your rights as a blogger, online business owner and content creator. These pages are not that important when starting out because you don’t have an audience.
However they become much more important once you start to build a big audience and are making a full time income from your website property. It’s well worth sitting down with a lawyer for a few hours and hammering everything out properly. Just consider it a cost of doing business.