Why You Need a Privacy Policy on Your Website

Why You Need a Privacy Policy on Your WebsiteThere are not many pages on your websites that you must have, but a privacy policy is one. There are several reasons, including that it is a legal requirement – you could be fined if you don’t have one. In addition, having a privacy policy also helps with SEO and is required by some third-party services.

What Is a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy is sometimes referred to as a privacy statement. It outlines how your company uses the private information it collects from visitors to your website.

Examples of common situations where websites collect data from users include:

  • Contact forms
  • Shopping carts
  • Call back requests
  • The use of website analytics services such as Google Analytics
  • Displaying advertisements on your website from platforms like Google AdSense
  • Incentives that encourage people to sign up to a newsletter or mailing list
  • If users can register with your website
  • And more…

You Must Have a Privacy Policy by Law

By law, you must have a privacy policy on your website. According to the legislation, the privacy policy must outline:

  • Who is collecting the data, i.e. the legal name and contact details of your company
  • Why it is being collected
  • Whether the data will be given to a third-party and, if so, who that third-party is
  • Information on how to contact your company to correct or request the removal of any personal data from your records

What happens if you don’t have a privacy policy? Usually, the Data Protection Commissioner would issue an enforcement notice instructing you to add one to your website. If you don’t comply with the enforcement notice you could get a fine of up to €100,000. You could also be made to delete any data collected through your website.

Privacy Policies and SEO

One key part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is taking steps to ensure Google trusts your website – if it trusts your website it is more likely to show it in a high position on its search results pages.

Google looks at a lot of factors when determining trust, and the truth is nobody except Google knows exactly how its search algorithm works. Most SEO experts, however, believe one of things it looks for on a website is a privacy policy.

Two Other Reasons for Having a Privacy Policy

  1. Some third-party services require privacy policies – examples include Google AdSense and some affiliate programmes such as Amazon Affiliates
  2. It is the right thing to do – being open with your website visitors about how you use their data helps to build trust

What About Cookie Policies?

The use of cookies is covered by separate rules. In particular, if your website uses cookies you must:

  • Provide information on what the cookie is for and why you use it
  • Obtain consent from the user

For clarity reasons, most people separate their cookie policy (and details about the process of obtaining consent) from their privacy policy.

Tips for Writing a Privacy Policy

  • Before you write, list out all the ways your website collects the personal data of users. Your IT or website development team might need to help with this stage.
  • A privacy policy should be separate from terms and conditions or other similar pages
  • Write the privacy policy yourself rather than finding an example on the internet and copying it. If you copy you risk leaving something out, plus Google hates duplicate content. In other words, a copied privacy policy could harm your website’s SEO.
  • You don’t have to go into a lot of detail but you should explain how your website uses visitor data using clear language, covering all the points mentioned above.
  • Include a sentence saying the privacy policy may be periodically updated so the user should check the page repeatedly in the future.

For more tips or advice on running your business, please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.

Posted in Tips and tagged , , , .