As a social media strategist working with businesses to increase their online exposure, I often encourage blogging as a means of distributing content and building authority for the brand. Despite the growth in social network use, blogs remain essential components in any online marketing plans. Search engines cache blog content with frequency, and even the major news outlets rely on customized blog platforms to easily produce content. If your business has a blog, you definitely need to use it regularly to inform your customer base of new innovations and products in your company, as well as other news. It’s important, too, to ensure that your blog is optimized.

What does this mean? Of course you want to use the right keywords in your articles, and you want to optimize your META data. Aside from that, you want to make certain you make good use of the tools available to you for promoting your content, and in turn raising awareness of your brand. Take a good look at your blog – is it designed in a way that allows for easy viral marketing? If not, make sure you have the following tools in place:

1) Share Buttons. You see these everywhere now – tiny colored icons with lower case f’s or silhouettes of birds. One click sends a blog post to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a myriad of bookmarking sites designed to share information. If you use a specific platform like Blogger or WordPress, there are widgets you can activate to put the most popular of the sharing buttons underneath each post you write. Individual sites, too, also offer code you can use in the template of your blog. Then it’s up to you to create compelling content worth sharing.

2) Related Posts Widget. For every blog article you post, there should be a widget that directs readers to links to related content within your blog. This is a handy tool to use in that it encourages visitor “stickiness.” Readers may be more inclined to hop around your blog if you give them direction by pointing out where to go next, and a good widget can help.

3) Mobile Viewing Option. More and more, people are reading websites with smart phones and tablets. Blog platforms have picked up on this fact and now offer functionality for blog owners to adapt their blogs for easy mobile reading. Check the software you use and make sure the mobile viewing options are activated. This way, people can read your blog anywhere.

4) Subscription Options. For readers that prefer to check blogs through feed readers, digital book readers like Kindle, and similar methods, the subscription option allows you to reach this audience. Set up functionality so people can subscribe to your blog via e-mail or RSS. If you blog regularly, it’s a good way to make sure readers are alerted when you have new information for them.

By adding these four simple tools to your blog, you have the potential to draw new readers and retain your current audience, and in turn keep your band visible.

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and social media specialist who assists clients with social media writing and networking. Clients include Fairfax personal injury lawyers, self-publishing services, Virginia health care services, Norfolk Realtors, global trade portals, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.