The Importance of META Descriptions is a bone of contention.
In my opinion, you should still think of them as an important tool that can help you with your search engine optimization.
Magical Meta Description Tags: Video (4 minutes 17 seconds)
META Descriptions are still important
If you have a relevant META Desc, Google will often use this as a snippet for a search result instead of creating it's own snippet out of page content. This creates a perfect opportunity to write a sales oriented snippet for the user personalized and to the point.
To encourage Google to use your META Desc as the snippet, you will need to include your search phrase in there. Attempt to ensure the search phrase appears twice in the META Desc, but concentrate first and foremost for the visitor. You want them to get them interested enough to click on the search result.
- Meta description tags may appear in the search results below your page title. Descriptions should be formatted in compete sentences so they read well to humans. Google displays about 150 to 160 characters from meta description tags in their search results. If your description runs past 160 characters they will cut it short and add ... at the end of their listing.
- Each meta description should be unique on a per page basis. If you have a large website you can automatically generate descriptions using formulas to include things like item price, shipping details, or any sales offers. If your site is smaller it is best to edit each meta description by tag, especially on your key pages.
- Meta descriptions should compliment your page titles by helping you differentiate from the competition and appeal to your target audience using similar touch-points.