This is definitely a common question that crops up among beginners; what do you do about all that legal jargon? Is it OK to use templates for these pages? What about duplicate content? Today's post is going to give you the answers you need, and will provide you with some resources to use as well.
First Off – My Own Disclaimer
I'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice. Some areas of Internet Marketing can be a grey area, and you should always check with a legal adviser if you really want sound advice.
I'm going to be giving you advice based on what I do, and on what makes sense to me.
Why Do We Need Legal Pages?
The concept of having legal pages and privacy policies and what not can sound pretty scary and daunting, especially to the beginner just starting out. There you are wondering how to do keyword research or choose a niche, or maybe wondering if your site is ever going to rank, when suddenly you realize there might be a need for legal pages. Wow! Scary.
Who needs them, and why?
Legally, it's unlikely that you'll ever need to have many legal pages, especially if you're just running a niche website. Wouldn't it be a shame though if you needed one and it didn't exist? It's definitely a case of better safe than sorry.
On top of that, the FTC requires that websites have an affiliate disclaimer if they are using affiliate links. You might think that you don't need to pay attention to the FTC if you'er living outside of the US, but what if your domain name is a dot com, or if your hosting company is based in the US?
Sometimes jurisdiction is a bit of a grey area, so it's better to have your bases covered.
Which Pages Should You Include?
I make it a habit to include the following “legal” pages:
- Affiliate Disclaimer
- Copyright Policy
Sometimes I will go for the full suite and include things like Website Disclaimer and Cookies Policy as well. It depends how large I'm planning to grow a site. In the beginning I think you can just get by with Privacy and Affiliate.
It's really up to you how many you want to go with. Basic pages should be enough for most instances.
Where Can You Find Legal Page Templates?
There are a few great resources online such as freenetlaw.com which allows you to download and use their templates for free, as long as you leave the initial credit and backlink in tact. This will be a “This page was created by freenetlaw.com” kind of blurb at the beginning.
All you have to do after you've uploaded them to your page is fill in any blanks (such as your website name) or delete parts of your policy that aren't applicable. Sometimes there are lines saying that data is stored on your secure server, when in fact you are using shared hosting.
If you aren't sure which parts to leave and which parts to delete, just leave everything. Cover those bases!
Here are links to a couple of useful pages:
Some of these pages will tell people to contact you at a certain email address. If you'd prefer, just link them to your contact page and put a simple contact form on it using Contact Form 7 or similar. See my contact page as an example.
Duplicate Content And Sitemaps
Another question a lot of people ask is whether they should noindex their pages and whether it's OK to include them in their sitemaps.
The truth is it doesn't really matter. There are arguments for or against. There's no need to fear duplicate content, as Google knows many sites have the same legal pages, use templates etc. Besides, in this case it's not duplicate content, it's syndicated.
Every site is allowed a little bit of “duplicate content” as it's necessary at times. Matt Cutts has given definitive answers on this several times.
I also think it's beneficially that Google sees you have privacy/legal pages, and I think it's often damaging to hide/noindex/nofollow too much of your content (Google will wonder why).
Therefore, I recommend you just keep this type of content indexed and added to sitemaps just like the rest of your content.
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