business.com receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BDC Hamburger Icon

MENU

Close
BDC Logo
Search Icon
Updated Nov 03, 2023

How to Make Your Website GDPR-Compliant Quickly and Easily (and Why You Should Immediately)

The GDPR is a sweeping data privacy law in the EU that affects any business website that collects data on EU citizens. Complying is essential to avoid massive fines and lawsuits.

author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Verified CheckEditor Verified
Verified Check
Editor Verified
Close
A business.com editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.

Table of Contents

Open row

Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union (EU), every business website needs to inform users about the data it collects. Severe data breaches at Yahoo, Uber and other companies have brought privacy concerns to the forefront. Making your website GDPR-compliant is necessary and helps protect users’ data.

Understanding what the GDPR is and how to implement it can feel overwhelming. Let’s look at what the GDPR act covers and how you can make your site GDPR-compliant.

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is an EU regulation that protects the online privacy of all EU citizens. It covers how personal data is used and extracted when users visit and interact with a website. This act affects all websites since they will likely get visitors from the EU region.

Here are some key features of the GDPR act that affect businesses:

  • All websites must explicitly disclose that they are collecting personal data.
  • Businesses must inform individuals about why, how and where they store and process users’ data.
  • Users have a right to ask for a portable copy of the data collected from them.
  • They have the right to have their data erased under some circumstances.
  • Businesses with core activities of collecting personal data must have a data protection officer.
  • Businesses must report severe breaches of information within 72 hours.
  • GDPR violators can be fined up to €20 million or up to 4 percent of the annual worldwide turnover.

The intent behind the GDPR is to protect people against data breaches. Most WordPress sites or other sites collect information in different ways. If a site uses analytics, WordPress forms, opt-in forms or email marketing, it collects personal information.

Your biggest concern as a website owner is to gain consent from site visitors. According to the GDPR, you must get explicit consent from EU citizens to collect and process their personal information. You cannot share this data with your advertising and remarketing accounts without consent.

Before you begin:

  • Get expert legal help: You should always get professional advice when it comes to legal matters. It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is well-versed in the GDPR. They can guide you to comply with the act correctly.
  • Review all data collection points on your website: Make a list of the data collection points on your website. This includes your checkout page, registration page, internet protocol addresses and analytics accounts. You also store user information if you’re working on membership site platforms. It’s essential to cover all these areas to get consent to collect information.

How to make your website GDPR-compliant

Educating yourself on GDPR compliance is worth the investment. GDPR-compliant businesses can build trust and avoid costly fines and downtime.

Be transparent

Collecting data is vital to business sustainability but it shouldn’t be abused. Every data collection point should provide the user with how the collected data will be used and stored.

To collect data, the user must be at least 16 years old. If you engage with minors, you must verify the user’s age without permission from a parent. A separate parental form is required if the user is under 16 before you can lawfully collect the data.

It’s worth noting that GDPR does not require a double opt-in for email lists. However, a double opt-in is an excellent practice to ensure you are verifying each email address and are only sending to your target audience.

Audit all data your company collects

All data collection should be logged and tracked through a seven-step process. Only collect data that is necessary for your business.

Create a document for each data collection point and keep them together in one place. Keeping detailed records with a data register can help you have a smooth audit process or handle a data breach should you even need to prove compliance.

  1. Source of data collection
  2. All data collected from lead, visitor or customer
  3. Do you ask for consent to collect the data?
  4. The reason for collecting the data
  5. Where and how is the data stored
  6. Is any sensitive data stored?
  7. How long is unnecessary data stored, such as for people who unsubscribe?
Did You Know?Did you know
Collecting IP addresses alongside email addresses can qualify as personal data. If your business collects IP addresses, seek guidance to ensure GDPR compliance.

Continuously monitor third-party risks. Each vendor you use should also follow GDPR compliance guidelines so you don’t risk your customer data when working with other companies.

Consider designating a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

While not every business will need a DPO, it is part of the GDPR guidelines that you must appoint one if your company meets any of the following conditions:

  • If a public authority is used to process the data
  • If any data collected is systematically monitored
  • If you process a large amount of collected data
  • If profiling data is collected (race, ethnicity, biometric, health, religion, and political affiliation)
TipBottom line
There are no GDPR-specific guidelines for "large-scale" data processing for a DPO appointee. If you are questioning whether your business should appoint a DPO, it's wise to designate one to ensure compliance. Always choose a DPO that works in or near your central headquarters, even if that location is outside the EU.

Maintain your privacy policy

To be GDPR-compliant, a privacy policy must be visible on your website. Anytime the privacy policy is updated, you must notify all customers with the updated link of the policy, highlighting any changes.

When updating your data privacy policy, seeking legal counsel experienced with GDPR compliance is highly recommended. You can also view an example privacy policy on the GDPR website.

WordPress Users

There’s good news for WordPress users. WordPress now has GDPR-compliant features as part of its core. To begin making your WordPress site more GDPR-compliant, you need to update to WordPress version 4.9.6 or higher, as they have many built-in privacy settings.

FYIDid you know
As of 2023, there are more than 800 million WordPress websites, over 40% of the global website platform market share.

Within these WordPress versions there are new key features that adhere to GDPR policy. They include explicit consent in comments, new data export and erase features and a policy generator.

Explicit consent in WordPress comments

In older versions, WordPress stored people’s names and details automatically when filling in comments. This ensured that people did not have to retype their information when making a new comment.

Now, WordPress includes a checkbox that people have to check manually. Doing so means that their names and emails are remembered and they don’t have to retype them.

New data export and erase features

WordPress has added two items under Tools in the dashboard: Export Personal Data and Erase Personal Data.

You can use these to easily export a user’s information into a .zip file or completely erase them from your database if they request it. These features support you in managing users’ data more efficiently and automatically.

Policy generator

WordPress has also created a premade privacy policy template. This allows you to create a page that informs visitors about what data you store and how you handle it.

You can find the policy generator by clicking Settings and Privacy on your dashboard. If you already have a privacy policy page, then you can set that under the Change your Privacy Policy page.

You can also choose Create New Page. This creates a new page with pre-made content for disclosures and privacy information. There are also helpful headings and suggestions. You will have to create content for these sections.

With these significant features in place, WordPress makes it easy for you to take a step toward GDPR compliance. Let’s look at some other things you need to take care of.

Additional steps to make your site GDPR-compliant

It isn’t possible to cover everything you need to know to make your website 100 percent GDPR-compliant. You need to get legal advice to do so. However, here are some critical aspects of your website that you can look after. This will make your website conform to the act more closely.

HTTPS

It is generally a good idea to encrypt traffic to your website. Do this by using HTTPS for your website. There are many benefits to moving to HTTPS. It also gives visitors to your site a feeling of security and trust.

Contact forms

Users need to know that your site will collect their data when using your contact form. This is the case with any other form on your site, such as a registration or opt-in form.

Create a tick box so users can click on it to confirm that they accept your terms of service when they click submit. You have to add another tick box so that users know you will send them additional marketing communication. The tick box must not be checked beforehand. Users need to click on it to give explicit consent. Fortunately, popular contact forms like WPForms, Ninja Forms and Contact Form 7 make it easy to add these tick boxes.

Add a cookie notice

It’s necessary to notify users on your site that your website collects cookies. You can do this by creating an overlay with a cookie notification plugin. Some plugins you can use are Cookie Notice and Cookie Consent.

Notifications for policy updates or data breaches

Have a system in place to inform users about policy updates and data breaches. You can use an email blast to update users about policy changes. Another helpful way is to use a GDPR compliance plugin to create notifications for you.

Analytics, tracking and remarketing

This refers to any third-party service or plugin you use that collects data. This includes Google Analytics, Google Ads, remarketing services and e-commerce analytics.

To manage this you must anonymize the data before storage and processing. Doing so can be complicated if you manually add Google Analytics to your site. However, you can use a tool or a plugin that automatically connects Google Analytics to your site. Choose one that has GDPR compliance options and can make data anonymization easy.

WooCommerce 

If you’re using WooCommerce for your online stores, you can use its built-in tool to manage user privacy. You can go to Settings and Accounts and Privacy. Enable the options for personal data retention. Also, enable options for erasure and privacy policy.

Add the necessary information and disclosure to your WooCommerce privacy policy. It is helpful to add information especially related to shopping and payment security.

Implementing GDPR creates a good impression in visitors’ minds. According to WPForms, nearly 88 percent of consumers ready to share personal information want transparency about how businesses use their information. Adding GDPR policies helps you and your business more than it inconveniences it.

GDPR compliance benefits individuals and businesses

Although the GDPR act may seem intimidating, it is beneficial to everybody. It aims to prevent future data breaches and protects people and businesses.

It ensures that people’s personal information is not misused. Companies are more vigilant about how they collect and manage data. 

It also creates more trust in those businesses that comply with the GDPR act. You can take several steps immediately to inform users about how you collect and use data. You’ll be able to implement the GDPR requirements by following the suggestions here and engaging with your users.

author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top