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How to create a comprehensive WordPress privacy policy

Creating a privacy policy for your WordPress website helps meet the transparency requirements of global data protection regulations and national authorities’ guidelines and builds trust with users by explaining how you collect, use, and protect their personal data.

Jun 19, 2024

If you host your website on WordPress, you probably collect different types of information from your visitors via cookies and other tracking technologies, forms, and other mechanisms. This data can include:

  • Personal information, such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses that you’d typically collect through forms such as subscription or contact forms.
  • Transaction information, like credit card details, item details like sizes, and shipping information for ecommerce purchases.
  • Usage data about how visitors interact with your website, including pages visited, links clicked, and time spent on each page.
  • Technical details about the visitor’s device, browser, and operating system, such as IP address, browser type, device type (desktop, tablet, phone), and screen resolution.
  • Data about how visitors found your site, such as search engine queries, social media links, or other websites that link to yours.
  • Information stored in cookies, which track user preferences and behavior on your site, and can store login information, language preferences, and other personalized settings.

All websites that collect this type of information or personal data about their visitors must, under various global data protection regulations, frameworks, and guidelines, publish a privacy policy — and WordPress is no exception. 

It’s important to note that many data privacy regulations protect the privacy and personal data of the people that reside in the law’s jurisdiction, like European Union (EU) residents under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). So it doesn’t matter if you or your company are based elsewhere if you process those individuals’ personal data, which is common online. Compliance is still required.

In this guide, we explain why you need a privacy policy, what to include in one, and how to add one to your WordPress website.

What is a privacy policy for a WordPress website?

A privacy policy is a legal document that outlines how your WordPress website collects, uses, manages, shares, sells, and protects the personal data of its visitors.

The primary purpose of a privacy policy is to inform visitors about:

  • types of data that are being collected, such as names, email addresses, or IP addresses
  • how this data is used, e.g., for analytics or marketing purposes
  • the circumstances under which it might be shared with third parties
  • visitors’ rights under applicable data privacy laws and how to exercise them

Personal data is also known as personal information in several laws, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)/California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). Some kinds of personal data are classified as “personally identifying”, or sensitive, potentially requiring adherence to even stricter privacy and security standards.

WordPress sites gather this personal data either directly through features like contact forms, account signups, and user comment forms, or indirectly through third-party services such as social media plugins and third-party advertisers or analytics tools, like cookies.

Why do you need a privacy policy for your WordPress website?

Data privacy is increasingly significant in the digital age, with laws being enacted and evolving worldwide to protect individual rights. For website owners, respecting user rights through proper website policies is a legal obligation and an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to user privacy.

Many countries have enacted privacy laws that require websites to provide transparent information to their users about their data handling practices. Publishing a detailed privacy policy that includes the mandated information is a straightforward way to comply with this obligation.

The necessity for a privacy policy kicks in as soon as your website collects any personal data from users located within the jurisdiction of the relevant data privacy laws. Some laws, like the CCPA/CPRA, take it a step further and specifically mandate that websites must publish a privacy policy or a privacy notice.

Failure to maintain an appropriate privacy policy can lead to significant legal consequences, including varying levels of financial penalties levied under the data privacy laws.

Compliance with WordPress requirements

The WordPress Terms of Service include a warranty that any individual or entity using the service will “comply with all applicable laws and regulations”, including applicable laws regarding privacy and data protection. Accepting this warranty means that WordPress users must comply with the requirements of relevant data privacy laws, including sharing transparent information about data handling practices and publishing privacy policies.

Building trust with website visitors

Beyond compliance, implementing transparency through clear privacy policy statements and easy to understand terms can significantly enhance user trust. A 2023 Salesforce survey of more than 14,000 consumers and business buyers reported that 71 percent of users are more likely to trust a company with their personal data if its use is clearly explained. A comprehensive privacy policy enables websites to do exactly that — transparently and clearly explain how they use customer, visitor, or user data.

What should you include in a WordPress privacy policy page?

Most global data protection regulations require entities responsible for collecting personal data and determining how it will be processed — known as ”data collectors” or “controllers” — to transparently share specific information about their data handling practices. Your WordPress privacy policy should cover these essential items, along with any other relevant details pertaining to your data management policies. 

The length and complexity of your WordPress privacy policy will depend on the volume and sensitivity of the data you collect, how it’s used, and how many laws, frameworks, and guidelines you need to comply with. Consulting with qualified legal counsel and/or a data privacy expert is strongly recommended. Relying entirely on templates or policy generators is not recommended.

Types of data collected

A WordPress privacy policy should comprehensively list all the types of data the site collects. This includes basic contact details such as names and email addresses, as well sensitive information like health-related data, and less directly identifying information like cookie data, IP address, and geolocation information.

Methods of data collection

The privacy policy must clearly outline both direct and indirect methods through which personal data is collected. Direct methods include user interactions, such as filling out contact forms, account signups, and user comment forms. Indirectly, data might be gathered through tracking cookies and tools such as Google Analytics. To ensure clarity and completeness, you must list and describe all the methods your website uses to collect data. This can be tricky, as some cookies set by third-party vendors, for example, can be deeply nested and change often.

Purposes of data collection

A WordPress privacy policy should specify why each piece of data is collected, whether it’s for enhancing user experience, marketing purposes, or necessary site functionalities such as session cookies, which keep a user logged in to a website. This is a fundamental requirement under many data protection laws, including the GDPR and CCPA. A cookie scanner or cookie checker tool can detect and categorize cookies based on their purpose to help you accurately list this information in your privacy policy.

Scan your website for free with Cookiebot CMP cookie checker

Data retention periods

When drafting your WordPress privacy policy, you must include details about how long you will retain each type of data collected from users. Different types of personal data will have different retention periods, and you should list each one separately. It’s important to be aware of the data retention and deletion requirements of the regulations and guidelines relevant to your business and users.

Third-party sharing

It is imperative to disclose if any collected data is shared with third parties. This includes partnerships with advertisers, logistics and fulfillment partners, or external service providers. The WordPress privacy policy should not only list these entities but also explain why you share personal data with these third parties.

Like most other websites, WordPress websites also use browser cookies and website tracking technologies to collect user data. You should inform users about how you collect and use their data through the use of these technologies in your privacy policy. Your cookie usage information include:

  • types of cookies you use and which specify ones are set
  • what purpose(s) the cookies are used for
  • what personal data the cookies collect and process
  • how long the cookies stay on users’ browsers
  • who the data shared, with including any third parties
  • the legal basis for collecting and processing data, where relevant

You must also outline how users can manage their preferences regarding use of WordPress cookies, including how to withdraw cookie consent once it has already been given. 

Your cookie policy can either be part of your WordPress privacy policy or a standalone document linked from your privacy policy.

Data security measures

In your WordPress privacy policy, outline the specific methods you use to protect user data. This can include using industry-standard security practices and technologies — such as encryption, secure servers, and regular security audits — to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security threats. Highlight any certifications or compliance with security standards that your organization might hold, as these demonstrate a commitment to maintaining high security standards.

Additionally, create and maintain policies and processes to manage data breaches, and inform users about the procedures you have in place for responding to such an event. This could include immediate containment measures, notification protocols for affected users, and steps to mitigate the impact of any breach.

In addition to the general legal requirements for privacy policies, some data privacy laws have certain specific requirements that you must be sure to include if the laws apply to you.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CCPA’s unique privacy policy requirements include instructions on specific language and policy review.

  • You must provide a clear and prominent link to the privacy policy on your website. The text for the link must include the word “privacy” in it, such as “Privacy Policy”, “California Privacy Policy”, or “California Privacy Rights”. 
  • A link with the text “Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information”, which takes users to a web page where they can opt out of the sale or sharing of their personal information, or its use for profiling or targeted advertising, must also be included in the privacy policy. 
  • If you process sensitive personal information, you must include a link with the text “Limit the Use of My Sensitive Personal Information” that enables consumers to opt out or limit disclosure of their sensitive personal information. 
  • You must review and update your privacy policy every 12 months, or if you collect personal information for a different purpose than before.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR requires more detailed transparency and explanations in a privacy policy, including specifics about:

  • the legal basis under the regulation for processing personal data
  • data transfers to third countries and the safeguards in place to protect the data during such transfers
  • how users can withdraw consent, including clear instructions on the process and the consequences of doing so
  • how users can lodge complaints with supervisory or data protection authorities

Washington My Health My Data Act (MHMDA)

If the Washington MHMDA applies, you require two privacy policies: 

  • a general privacy policy that covers data collection and processing at large
  • a dedicated privacy policy that covers how data controllers handle consumer health data specifically

How do you create a privacy policy for a WordPress site?

There are multiple ways you can create a WordPress privacy policy to incorporate into your website.

Writing it manually

You can write your WordPress privacy policy from scratch using clear, concise language and ensuring that each section is tailored to your website’s specific privacy practices. Legal experts can provide specific guidance to help you draft a privacy policy that accurately reflects your data practices and adheres to relevant data privacy laws.

WordPress provides a straightforward method to add a privacy policy page to your website using built-in features. Initially, you can navigate to the Pages section from your WordPress dashboard, where WordPress has already created a draft privacy policy template page. You can change the text on this page to add your custom privacy policy. You can then set this page as your official privacy policy from the Privacy section of your dashboard. You can also opt to generate a new page by creating a new page from the Privacy section and adding your text to it.

Using a WordPress privacy policy generator

A privacy policy generator is an efficient option if you’re looking for a tool that can help you write the policy instead of doing it manually. Tools like the Cookiebot™ Privacy Policy Generator automate the process based on details you provide, including:

  • your website name and URL
  • your business information 
  • which country you’re located in
  • details of the types of personal data your website collects
  • how you use personal data
  • which tracking technologies your website uses
  • any specific jurisdictions you want to include in the policy

Based on your responses, it will draft a ready to use WordPress privacy policy that is customized to your organization’s data collection and processing policies and aligns with different legal requirements.

Generate your WordPress privacy policy for free with Cookiebot™ today

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Using a WordPress plugin

WordPress plugins significantly simplify adding legal pages to your site, including privacy policies and cookie policies. While setting up a WordPress plugin, you will be asked for details specific to your business to create a customized privacy policy. Once finalized, you can customize it further, if necessary, or directly publish it on the site.

The Cookiebot™ WordPress Plugin includes several additional features that can help with compliance requirements:

  • Automated cookie scan: the plugin runs regular automated scans to detect the cookies and tracking technologies your WordPress website uses so that you are always up to date with how you collect user data.
  • Automated cookie policy: these regular scans help keep your cookie policy detailed and accurate at all times. The plugin automatically detects and updates the status of cookie and tracking technology data collection in your cookie policy and enables users to change or withdraw granular consent.
  • Consent management: the plugin includes consent management features, including a cookie banner, to collect opt-in or opt-out consent information. This enables you to collect valid consent that aligns with the data processing policies that are outlined in your privacy policy.
  • Specific compliance requirements: if you’re required to comply with the CCPA/CPRA requirements, for example, you can add a “Do Not Sell Or Share My Personal Information” link to your cookie policy and the cookie banner as mandated by the regulation with the help of the plugin. 

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How should you add your privacy policy to a WordPress website?

Under most data protection regulations, the information you share with visitors must be easily accessible. There are multiple ways you can share your WordPress privacy policy with website visitors so that it’s easy for them to find.

One of the most common practices is to include a link to your privacy policy in the footer area of your website. This ensures that the link is visible on every page, providing users with easy access regardless of their navigation path.

Checkout and login pages

For websites where visitors make a purchase or require user accounts, you can also include a link to your privacy policy on relevant pages, such as checkout or login forms. This ensures that users have access to information about your data practices before providing personal information or completing a purchase.

A cookie banner is a common method used to obtain explicit consent to collect data for laws that require it, such as the GDPR. For laws that follow the opt-out consent method, like most US state-level data privacy laws, it is used to inform users that your website uses cookies. Including a link to your privacy policy and/or cookie policy in the cookie banner is a transparent way to share the policy with new visitors to your website, and when you need to obtain consent for new purposes or because consent has expired.

Some laws, such as the CCPA, require you to display a “notice at collection” that includes the link to a “Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information” page. A cookie banner or cookie notice is a good way to comply with this requirement while sharing a link to your WordPress privacy policy page alongside.

Navigation menus

Depending on the structure and design of your WordPress theme, you may also consider including a link to your privacy policy in your website’s primary navigation menu. This approach enhances visibility and accessibility, catering to users who prefer to access such information directly from the main navigation.

Widgets and shortcodes

WordPress offers a range of widgets and shortcodes that you can use to display your privacy policy link or content in various sections of your website, such as sidebars, headers, or custom content areas. This flexibility enables you to tailor the placement and visibility of your privacy policy based on your website’s design and user experience considerations.

Guide for maintaining your WordPress privacy policy

After your privacy policy is published, you need to make sure it continues to comply with global data protection regulations as they evolve, and with your business as it grows. Here are some best practices to ensure that the privacy policy remains effective and relevant.

Regularly update the privacy policy

Establish a routine for reviewing and updating your privacy policy, even in the absence of regulatory changes. This practice ensures that your policy accurately reflects the current state of your website’s data collection practices, technological advancements, and changes to third-party integrations or partnerships. Publish the date the policy was last reviewed so visitors know how up to date it is.

Clearly communicate changes to users

Whenever you update your WordPress privacy policy, clearly communicate these changes to the users in a timely and transparent manner. You can do this through multiple channels, such as popup notifications on your website and email updates.

Use clear and understandable language 

The language used in your privacy policy should be free of legal jargon, making it understandable for the average website visitor. This helps visitors understand exactly what they’re consenting to when they use the site. Clear language eliminates confusion and is a legal requirement of several data privacy laws.

Conclusion and next steps

Setting up and maintaining a privacy policy for your WordPress site is essential for compliance with global data protection regulations and fostering user trust. A well-crafted privacy policy transparently explains how you collect, use, and protect user data, addressing legal requirements contained in the different data privacy laws with which your business have to comply. Using WordPress plugins that automatically scan your website for cookies can help you stay on top of the technologies collecting data on your site, and help ensure your privacy policy remains current and accurately reflects your data practices.

There are different ways to create a customized privacy policy, including using templates and privacy policy generators. However, it is recommended to consult a legal counsel or privacy expert to ensure your privacy policy is both accurate and compliant. Regularly revisiting your privacy policy and clearly communicating any changes further checks off regulatory requirements, ensures transparency, and builds confidence with your website visitors.

Usercentrics does not provide legal advice, and information is provided for educational purposes only. We always recommend engaging qualified legal counsel or privacy specialists regarding data privacy and protection issues and operations.


Do I need a privacy policy on my WordPress website?

Yes, you need a privacy policy on your WordPress website if you collect any personal data from visitors residing in a jurisdiction protected by data privacy law (which is most of the world at this point). This is required by various data protection regulations, such as the GDPR, CCPA, and others, to ensure transparency about how user data is collected, used, and protected.

Does WordPress have a privacy policy generator?

WordPress includes a built-in privacy policy generator. This tool provides a basic template that you can customize to fit your specific data collection practices and legal requirements. You can access it through your WordPress dashboard under the Privacy settings. There are also several privacy policy generators available, including Cookiebot™ privacy policy generator, that you can use to create a customized privacy policy. Solely relying on templates and generators without consulting legal counsel or a privacy expert is not recommended, however.

Is WordPress GDPR compliant?

WordPress provides tools and features to help websites comply with the GDPR, such as a basic privacy policy generator and cookie consent plugins. However, compliance depends on many factors, including how you configure and manage your site, how you obtain consent from users for collecting their personal data, and how you handle personal data once collected.

How do I add a privacy policy in WordPress?

To set your privacy policy page on WordPress, you can use go to the Privacy settings in your WordPress dashboard. Here, you can create or designate a privacy policy page. Additionally, you can use WordPress plugins to generate a privacy policy.

How can I create a WordPress privacy policy?

To create a privacy policy, you can draft it manually, use a privacy policy generator tool provided by WordPress or third-party services, or use a WordPress plugin. Ensure that it covers legal requirements relevant to your jurisdiction and is written in clear, understandable language.

Can you write your own WordPress privacy policy?

Yes, you can write your own WordPress privacy policy. Start by identifying the data you collect, how it is used, and the measures you take to protect it. Use clear, concise language and ensure your policy complies with the requirements of relevant data protection laws, frameworks, and guidelines. Consulting legal experts for accuracy is advisable.

How do I make a WordPress privacy policy GDPR compliant?

To make your WordPress privacy policy GDPR compliant, you need to include specific details about your data processing activities. Outline the types of personal data you collect, how and why you collect it, and how it is used. Specify the legal basis for processing the data and describe any data transfers to third countries and the safeguards in place. Provide information on how users can withdraw consent and their rights under the GDPR. Include contact information for your Data Protection Officer (DPO) if applicable, and instructions on how users can lodge complaints with supervisory authorities. Regularly review and update your privacy policy to reflect any changes in data practices or regulations.

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