All websites should include at least one defined “meta description”. A meta description is a concise explanation of the contents of that page or site. It is sometimes used by search engines, and also social media sites such as Facebook. Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate snippets longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters.
Meta description code looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”WebSolutionZ is a Melbourne-based website design & development company which provides complete digital solutions for small/medium sized businesses.“>
Here is the WebsolutionZ.com.au website meta description in action via a Google search:
And on Facebook:
Consider the meta description to be like ad space for your website. What do you want to say that will convince others to click on your site instead of another?
If you don't have a meta description defined, it may be defined for you. Sometimes a search engine will take the first paragraph it finds within your website and truncate it to 150-160 characters. Sometimes nothing at all is displayed. While it's true that search engines don't use meta descriptions for SEO ranking, a good meta description can contribute to a higher click-through rate from search engine results. Why leave something like this to chance?
There are many ways to write a meta description, depending on what your site is trying to achieve. I generally try searching Google for the relevant business type first, to see what competitors are doing. Failing this, there are many pages detailing how to do this. A good article can be found here.