So recently Google officially released longer snippets on search results. There has been some chatter about this depreciating the value of the meta description. I have to play spoiler here and say I disagree.
The extended snippet stuff is great for long tail queries, like the many that I do when looking for programming information. Yet I don’t think it changes the importance of the meta description tag, especially for shorter search phrases.
Short snippets indicate tighter keyword proximity within the optimization of content; more precisely what the searcher is looking for. Longer snippets are only displayed when the keyword proximity is wider, therefore the content might not be precisely what the search is looking for, so that the searcher can better determine if the content on each page might have what they’re searching for.
Here’s some examples of tight keyword proximity within the content of the ranked pages, resulting in mostly short snippets:
Here’s some examples of loose keyword proximity within the content of the ranked pages, resulting in many long snippets:
So I stand by my opinion that body content and title tag are equally the best places to optimize for keywords and phrases to increase rankings, while the meta description is the best place to encourage a click through.