There are a few things I enjoy other than web development. I love SEO, and Law also; having never found enough time to tackle either, I like to keep my eye in whenever something crops up.

Something that SEO and Law share, are pitfalls, and myths. Hopefully below, I’m going to tackle a few, and point out some good sites to find out more information about these things. It’s worth pointing out that I’m not qualified at all to give you this information. Always seek legal advice when doing anything. It’s just safer!

This mini article is only really an overview of some things that should be taken into account during the planning, design, development, and maintenance of your website. Hopefully you will have come across most of this in your off-line marketing already, so it won’t come as too much of a shock.

Your domain name choice and branding.

Does it infringe any other business trade mark rights or intellectual property? Many affiliate users and legitimate websites have fallen foul of this previously. It might seem like a great idea to use a competitor’s business or product name to shortcut your way to getting some of their business, but it can also be a quick way to get what you’ve built up snatched away.

The other company has every right to stop you doing this (Trade Marks Act 1994). Such examples include the huge list here, here and here.

You can of course protect yourself by using trade mark symbols where authorised and appropriate.

Copyright Messages

Whenever the new year comes, many folk take to twitter and talk about how to update your copyright message so it says 1810-2011 instead of 2010 – like this. Most people don’t realise that you don’t actually need a copyright message anywhere on your site. Anything you write is automatically covered by UK copyright law (okay, this is the case in the UK. It might not be anywhere else). This means that you cannot copy sections of text, images or movies from other sites into your own without the express consent from the author. What the message does though, is show that you are willing to assert your rights over your copyright – and this can serve as a deterrent.

Personal Data

Do you collect any personal data through your registration processes or contact forms? If you do, you need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This tells you what you can, and can’t do regarding the capture of personal information and more importantly what you can do with the information in terms of marketing and scope in which it can be used.

Marketing is usually a large part of website strategy. This means that you should be careful with how you use the data you have collected. As well as Data Protection Act 1998, you should also look at Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 which governs unsolicited electronic communications between you and your customers.

You will also find a lot of discussion online regarding whether you should offer opt-ins, or opt-outs when collecting the information- like here.

Remember, all electronic communication between your company and the third party (your customers) must include your company registration number, place of registration, and your registered office. Many online email campaign managers, such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor make this mandatory. They also make you add an unsubscribe link (or add one for you) so that customers can quickly opt out of receiving future communications.


As well as safe guarding the information that users supply to you, you also need to ensure that your website is accessible to its users. The Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the previous Disability Discrimination Act 1995) consolidates numerous Acts and Regulations, which form the basis of anti-discrimination law in the UK.

The Act governs what processes you have to put in place for your business to be “accessible”, and this also governs your business website. Whilst I don’t believe there have been any test cases in UK courts, the RNIB have approached several companies with regard to their failing to make their website accessible. The Cynthia Portal can be used to check your website’s accessibility level, and is graded A, AA, and AAA.


There is a fine line between ranting, and slander. Always make sure what you say has factual evidence to back it up. Slander can be made in a blog article, news etc, and is hard to filter if you’re aggregating content. Also, be aware that your forum or comments may be a place where slander can take place. Whilst you may not be liable, police may request logs from you to back up claims by others.

Round up

As I said above, I’m not a legal bod, so if you disagree with any of this, or think I’ve got anything wrong, please contact me or leave a note in the comments. Similarly, if you want something else adding, let me know and I’ll take a look.

Image Credit: West Midlands Police