The Meta Description (along with Meta Keywords) were once the be all and end all of SEO. Everyone knows that this is no longer the case, as search engines became more and more sophisticated they learn't how to utilise page content, links and other factors which better determine whether or not a page is relevant to a particular search phrase. But, this isn't to say that the Meta Description doesn't hold an important place in the SEO court.
Your Meta Description is as important as ever (if not for completely different reasons).
The Meta Description's role is now perhaps best described as being to provide search engine results pages (SERPS) with a short, sharp explanation of the content of the web page in question. This description is frequently used as the summary text next to a search result (example below).
This piece of real estate while no longer a ranking factor does have an extremely important role to play in gaining click through from SERPS, the more enticing and relevant to the user's search the more likely it is that you will gain the click.
Meta Description Best Practice
Current thinking suggests the following best practice for your Meta Description tags:
- Roughly 150 - 160 characters in length.
- Do not include any non-alphanumerica characters.
- Ensure descriptions are unique across pages.
- Monitor changes in description to help identify gain/loss in click through - and adapt again if necessary.