On the next update, instead of the serps displaying the new title, it created one with rich snippets
page name - dmoz description of homepage.
whatson... I'm thinking that "rich snippets" is an incorrect description of what Google was doing. This really has nothing to do with "rich snippets" as they're actually defined... and it may or may not actually have specifically involved the dmoz listing either.
You're talking about Google rewriting a title because it was too long and stuffed with keywords, which is something that Google has been doing. They usually do that by pulling text relevant to the query, and combining that with the company name.
Snippets are defined as small bits of text.
snippets", though, are bits of certain categories of text that get added to the meta description
. They get categorized by microdata... which is essentially meta-data embedded in your page code to identify various content types. In what you're describing, the text got added to your title
. So you can accurately call the text "snippets", but they're technically not the "rich" kind. ;)
The company name is generally what Dmoz/ODP used for home page titles on its company listings. Chances are that that's not how Google is getting the company name now, but a Dmoz/ODP listing may well serve as a confirmation.
Two threads possibly of interest, as it sounds like you've got a lot of reading to catch up on.... Google is testing altered page titles http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4206724.htm
Basically, when your page ranks for a query and Google isn't finding vocabulary that matches the query in your title, it looks for it elsewhere, both on and off your page or site, and adds it to the displayed title. Historically, an ODP listing was one trusted place where Google looked for title text, but it's definitely no longer the only place.
Also, more specifically about the title pattern as you're describing it, see this discussion from July and August of 2012. I may post an update to that discussion soon, as there's an interesting twist I'm seeing regarding the company name, which suggests to me that Google isn't using ODP as the company name source.... Google is now rewriting all my page titles http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4480232.htm