Becoming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant is a vital step for the success of your blog or website. If you want to keep high ratings and make visitors trust you, a set of simple steps is a must-do.
But is it only cookies? What are the regulations and why do I have to comply with them?
We know there are many questions and maybe not so many answers, especially if you're a newcomer in the bloggers and webmasters field. That's why below, we'll discuss the what's and why's of GDPR and what to do to comply with it.
What Is GDPR: A Brief 101
The General Data Protection Regulation was created by the European Union to protect the personal data of Internet users located in the EEA (European Economic Area). It's a set of rules websites need to follow to ensure the security of their visitor's personal information.
Basically, all websites now must give you a choice about storing your personal data.
Don't think this applies to you? Wrong. If you have traffic from the EU countries, you must comply with the regulations. You can always block this part of the traffic, but is it beneficial for your project?
And it's not an "I want to do it" or "I don't want to do it" situation. If your website isn't compliant, you may be fined.
Who Needs to Comply with GDPR?
Who needs it:
- People who have EU traffic;
- Those making money from their websites;
- Promote and offer products and services (affiliate links included);
- Use Google Analytics;
- Gather user data like emails for a subscription.
Even if you think none of these apply to you, the changes are still worth it. You can download a plugin (if it's a WordPress blog, for example), that will show the notifications about cookies, etc. only to EU visitors.
So, if you're a part of an affiliate program or have a wide range of EU readers, the following steps are the first to do. Then, we recommend researching the matter further to find out whether you need to do something else.
Don't know where to get one?
There are two ways:
- Hiring a professional lawyer to write the document for you (if you have a business and want to upscale in the future);
- Downloading a free standard one online and modify it as necessary
For example, if you gather email subscribers, you need to specify how it is used in the document. You also have to mention that there's an option to unsubscribe, explaining in detail how to do it. Add plugins you're using to collect data as well.
It's all about offering a choice, remember?
The final step: send notifications about the update to all EU subscribers. You can find out who is from those countries by using special plug-ins. But it's wise to send the email to everyone to show that you own a trustworthy service.
2. Create a Consent Page for EU Users
If you have an email list already, send email updates stating everything about the changes. Mention the cookie use, ways to unsubscribe, etc. Title the email like "Do you still want to receive emails from us?".
Reason the changes saying that you want to have a legal source people can trust. Offer honest choices to receive fewer emails, selective ones, or none at all. This will be better even for your website and improve open rates and reduce the chance of users marking your email as spam.
You see, if people don't open your letters, Gmail considers them spam, which isn't good.
3. Mind Where You Get Backlinks from
While security is the key, you will still have to promote somehow. Backlinks are one of the best ways to do that. However, many businesses overlook one thing - IPs of websites they post on.
Having too many backlinks from one website (i.e. IP) may undermine the security of your data and your reputation. The rule of thumb is that you should get backlinks from different IPs to improve Google rankings. But this will also decrease the chances of getting on a spammy platform that may steal your data.
Here are some facts about IPs and backlinks:
- The search engine likes it more if the websites linking to you have a local domain extension;
- If a server's IP gets a spam flag, all websites it hosts will get it. Check yours and that of the sites you want to have a backlink on;
- Receiving too many backlinks from websites with the same C-class IPs will seem suspicious.
Make sure the websites you're collaborating with also comply with GDPR. While this isn't your responsibility, you'll get more benefits from legal sites. And remember that if you use the "refuse EU traffic" option in your WordPress plugin, the visitors from the EEA won't be able to access your source.
4. Add a Cookie Consent Message
The first time a person visits your site, they have to see a pop-up with a message that you comply with GDPR and admit using cookies. The message can be customized to your website. You may also add a choice of the cookies the visitor will accept.
Some websites don't offer options and just have a button "Accept". After creating the message and embedding it on the page, check how it looks by accessing the website. The first time, you'll see the window and will be able to choose your options.
5. Use Proper Plugins to Control Your GDPR Compliance
If you use WordPress, find a plugin that will help you by:
- Allowing for advanced management of traffic;
- Refusing EU traffic at all if you don't want to comply with GDPR;
- Notifications on data access requirements;
- Notifications on data breach requirements, etc.
Such a plugin will allow you to show pop-ups and special pages only to EU visitors. It will automate some processes and make it easier for you to manage your website and keep it legal for all users.
6. Update Your Google Analytics Account to Finish
If you're using Google Analytics, which you should, it's worth updating it to be compliant with GDPR as well. There are 3 major steps every website owner has to do to protect their data and the information of their visitors:
- Update the Data Retention Timing: On the admin panel, there is a Data Retention section. Set it to not expiring automatically.
- Make the analytics anonymous: You have to state that you don't track users' IPs. This is done to prevent data breaches for people who won't accept cookies.
- Sign the GA Data Processing Agreement: In Setting, find and sign the agreement to finish the 6 essential steps to GDPR compliance.
Value Your Security as Much as You Value Others
You have to rest assured that a certain amount of data is hidden from the public eye while some are available. There's a balance of information access which determines companies that try to save their privacy with those trying to hide something.
To make sure the data is secure, you can find IP location and public IPv4 or IPv6 address on our website. The locator will show the latitude, longitude, country, city, and even region. This will allow for leveraging information security and your further actions.
Follow the updates of GDPR and other laws that touch your industry, niche, or the Internet and eCommerce. Complying with the new rules as soon as possible will bring more benefits than not being compliant. You also get more trust from current and new customers. More people will convert from regular visitors to clients because they will feel safe.
Some people are sick and tired of the word GDPR due to the sheer volume of news there were back in 2018. But isn't it nice that Internet users have a choice now? The choice to share cookies, and unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters, and etc.
We hope this article has helped you understand the rules of GDPR and made complying with them easier!
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