WTF have Google, Bing, and Yahoo cooking?

Folks, I’ve got good news. As a matter of fact, they’re so good that they will revolutionize SEO. A little bird told me, that the major search engines secretly teamed up to solve the problem of context and meaning as a ranking factor.

They’ve invented a new Web standard that allows content producers to steer search engine ranking algos. Its code name is ADL, probably standing for Aided Derivative Latch, a smart technology based on the groundwork of addressing tidbits of information developed by Hollerith and Neumann decades ago.

According to my sources, ADL will be launched next month at SMX East in New York City. In order to get you guys primed in a timely manner, here I’m going to leak the specs:

WTF - The official SEO standard, supported by Google, Yahoo & Bing

Word Targeting Funnel (WTF) is a set of indexer directives that get applied to Web resources as meta data. WTF comes with a few subsets for special use cases, details below. Here’s an example:

<meta name="WTF" content="document context" href="" />

This directive tells search engines, that the content of the page is closely related to the resource supplied in the META element’s HREF attribute.

As you’ve certainly noticed, you can target a specific SERP, too. That’s somewhat complicated, because the engineers couldn’t agree which search engine should define a document’s search query context. Fortunately, they finally found this compromise:

<meta name="WTF" content="document context" href=" || ||" />

As far as I know, this will even work if you change the order of URIs. That is, if you’re a Bing fanboy, you can mention Bing before Google and Yahoo.

A more practical example, taken from an affiliate’s sales pitch for viagra that participated in the BETA test, leads us to the first subset:

Subset WTFm — Word Targeting Funnel for medical terms

<meta name="WTF" content="document context" href="" />

This directive will convince search engines that the offered product indeed is not a clone like Cialis.

Subset WTFa — Word Targeting Funnel for acronyms

<meta name="WTFa" content="WTF" href="" />

When a Web resource contains the acronym “WTF”, search engines will link it to the World Taekwondo Federation, not to Your Ranting and Debating Resource at

Subset WTFo — Word Targeting Funnel for offensive language

<meta name="WTFo" content="meaning of terms" href="" />

If a search engine doesn’t know the meaning of terms I really can’t quote here, it will lookup the Internet Slang Directory. You can define alternatives, though:

<meta name="WTFo" content="alternate meaning of terms" href="" />

WTF, even more?

Of course we’ve got more subsets, like WTFi for instant searches. Because I appreciate unfair advantages, I won’t reveal more. Just one more goody: it works for PDF, Flash content and heavily ajax’ed stuff, too.

This is the very first newish indexer directive that search engines introduce with support for both META elements and HTTP headers as well. Like with the X-Robots-Tag, you can use an X-WTF-Tag HTTP header:
X-WTF-Tag: Name: WTFb, Content: SEO Bullshit, Href:



As for the little bird, well, that’s a lie. Sorry. There’s no such bird. It’s bugs I left last time I visited Google’s labs:
<meta name="WTF" content="bug,bugs,bird,birds" href="" />

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28 Comments to "WTF have Google, Bing, and Yahoo cooking?"

  1. everfluxx on 17 September, 2010  #link

    WTF FTW!

  2. john andrews on 17 September, 2010  #link

    So can tell me optimal length of WTF tag? My friend says 65 char but I used 90 char for longer search and my traffic rocketed to the moon. Just 1 hour so far but looking good thanks!

    Also we need to test URL parameters fast! I am starting testing today for my most common one (PHPSESSID). I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe someone else can start testing &utm_source and someone else &utm_media for example? Testing would go faster. We could zero in on optimal correlations faster!

    Thanks webmaster! I use this info daily!

  3. Sebastian on 17 September, 2010  #link

    John, thanks for your help with testing these new indexer directives. I’m glad you’ve managed to implement this kinda complex stuff so successfully!

    As for optimal length, according to my very well informed sources that’s ‘per attribute’:

    “name” shouldn’t exceed 4 characters

    “content” will be processed up to 56 characters, but you can put more than one WTF meta element if your money term is too long

    “href” will make use of theoretical 2,048 bytes, whereof the first 255 bytes of an URI get the most ranking boost

    When you supply WTF meta data via GET in your links, please make sure that you mask whitespace as ‘ +’, not ‘%20 ‘, because URI de/encoding will not be implemented in WTF/1.0

  4. Alan Bleiweiss on 17 September, 2010  #link

    WTF is going to revolutionize the search industry. I’m just really concerned that people on the Warrior Forum are going to get wind of this and dominate search results if they can figure out the subtleties and nuances necessitated by the dichotomy in coefficients based on industry extrapolation.

    Of course, this will also mean the LTV gained through ROI will be diametrically increased proportional to the leveraging of any particular site’s value-add.

    Really appreciate you giving us the heads-up on this breakthrough collaboration between the big 3. I’m just surprised that there’s no accommodation for Wikipedia as a reference point in the new protocol.

  5. Sebastian on 17 September, 2010  #link

    Alan, I appreciate your insights very much. As for Wikipedia, it can’t be referenced in the WTF’s HREF attribute, because everybody can edit it without even being properly logged in, hence the major search engines don’t trust it enough. The somewhat pathetic outlier (that the wiki ranks well for obscure search terms every once in a while), is solely based on the fact that it’s boosted by WTF tags put by trusted sources like

  6. IrishWonder on 17 September, 2010  #link

    And I hear that if you use WTFs you get to rank successfully even for the most spammed queries and beat all those dirty spammers at their own game! :D

  7. DazzlinDonna on 17 September, 2010  #link

    I’m already working on a script that will automate the whole WTF process across thousands of kw-rich domains. I’ll let you know when it’s finished, Sebastian. You can be my first super-affiliate for the script. ;)

  8. DocSheldon on 17 September, 2010  #link

    Nice job of keeping your ear to the ground, Sebastian! WTF will make a difference in the way we do business.
    I’m assuming (okay, hoping) WTF is fully XHTML compliant.

  9. Sebastian on 17 September, 2010  #link

    @IrishWonder AFAIK spammy viagra/cialis SERPs triggered the WTF development. The engines were just sick of the crappy search results.

    @Donna Although I didn’t intend to generate revenue out of this, I’ll happily accept your generous offer!

  10. Alysson on 17 September, 2010  #link


  11. Andy on 17 September, 2010  #link

    Are there other implementations coming?

    Microformat rel=”wtf” ? hwtf?
    HTML5 Microdata ?

  12. Sebastian on 17 September, 2010  #link

    @Doc I can assure you that the WTF standard is fully XHTML compliant. In fact, ATM it’s not yet decided whether it will support HTML/4- or not.

    @Andy, RDFa is quite a challenge, but WTF/1.1 will come with support for plain microformats:

    <p wtf-scope="element" wtf-content="paragraph context" wtf-href=""> Latest microformats news: Please welcome WTF </p>

  13. DocSheldon on 17 September, 2010  #link

    I think they must already be planning RDFa as well then, Sebastian. Seems foolish not to, and having developed WTF, they’re certainly not fools.

  14. Alan Bleiweiss on 17 September, 2010  #link


    I’d think support for RDFa would be a true WTF moment.

    The more I think about the possibilities I’m wondering now about the syntax of a WTF query. Would it start out WTF?

  15. CuriousSEO on 20 September, 2010  #link

    I was searching for another source and just found out where the W3C hosts the official WTF standard page.

  16. DocSheldon on 20 September, 2010  #link

    Good find, CuriousSEO! Looks like the syntax should lend itself well to RDFa implementation, once they work that out.

  17. Hamlet Batista on 20 September, 2010  #link

    You should not have written about this in a public forum like this. How irresponsible? Now, I need to cross my finger hoping my main Viagra competitors don’t find this gem :)

  18. jaamit on 20 September, 2010  #link

    Mind. Blown.

    Your sterling detective work has prompted me to rewrite our SEO training guide. I’ve just finished crossing out the bit about page titles and replaced it with WTF. I’m also considering chopping out ‘linkbuilding’ (overrated) and replacing it with LDA.

    Thanks for your hard work as always Sebastian..

  19. Bowdeni on 21 September, 2010  #link

    I can’t wait for SEOmoz to produce some statistical studies on this.

  20. Whycommunicate on 21 September, 2010  #link

    WTF this is incredible, thats for the nod @jaamit i’m sure this is going to alter the perception of the industry as never before!!!

  21. Andy @ FirstFound on 21 September, 2010  #link

    Sounds like WTF is going to revolutionise the way we work. Now I can turn to clients, and when they tell me to “optimise the fireball” I can reply with a quick, curt, WTF.

  22. Redseo on 24 September, 2010  #link

    Impressive & cutting edge, although it would be greatly appreciated if you could assist with a clarification question, please.

    When you say that will convince search engines that the offered product indeed is not a clone like Cialis… why is that? I’m excited for what I think your saying, but not sure what specifically would cause a search engine to change rankings here.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the search engine would be highly likely to already have identified a page about Viagra as being focused to ED drugs without this directive. What specifically about the .pdf reference would cause a change?

    I clearly understand your World Taekwondo Example versus the slang meaning of WTF, but am failing to grasp the first example and am looking forward to the ‘ah-ha!’ moment.

    Also, may I echo the sentiment of the other commenters and join them in thanking you for sharing your research and insights.

  23. Sebastian on 24 September, 2010  #link

    Redseo, search engines can extract structural formulas, molecular weights, active ingredients and such stuff from medical documents. Therefore a reference to a detailed product description can be used to check a Web page for originality. For example, if a sales pitch for Viagra is a cluttered cookie-cutter page based on a Cialis template, the page gets a lower scoring for Viagra, and won’t rank well for Cialis, too.

    In the next step (not yet out of Google’s labs and still a secret) the search engine will do a lookup for the searcher’s medical records. If available, the query engine can figure out whether a particular product can be recommended on the SERP, or it’s appropriate to rank a nearby GP’s website first.

  24. Alan Bleiweiss on 24 September, 2010  #link

    I’d also think that since they’re working on matching a searcher’s medical records to that medical related search, that might be a step in the direction of providing virtual diagnoses and subsequent treatment options, sort of like a next generation Google Docs…

    I could then see this being implemented in a number of other ways - all they’d have to do is retrieve a searcher’s resume’, cross reference that with their social media footprint, and predetermine whether the person should even be presented with specific open job listings - like if Google knows that Company X pre-screens candidates for alcohol abuse, if there are any photos of the searcher in a drunken stupor out on the web- that would help recruiters out a great deal…

  25. Springboard SEO on 26 September, 2010  #link

    Nice try passing this off as news.

    Any standardista with his/her salt knows this “standard” for what it is–an unethical manipulation of Google’s Gaussian Weighting Filter for blackhat geo targeting.

    I’ve been watching in disgust for years as SMCs (Search Marketing Charlatans) misuse what could have been more relevant to search than even LDA.

    An example for you noobs:

    <meta name=”omgwtf” (Organic Matrix for Gaussian WeighTing Filter) content=”bbq” (Barbados Queries)>


    thanks for the chuckle Sebastian :]

  26. Sebastian on 26 September, 2010  #link

    Springboard, I’m quite sure you’ve a syntax error in this meta element. It doesn’t validate.

  27. Springboard SEO on 27 September, 2010  #link

    This will validate with a strict 4.01 doctype:

    <meta name=”omgwtf” content=”bbq”>

    <!– Tagatrute = Organic Matrix for Gaussian WeighTing Filter & Value = Barbados Queries –>

    Incidentally, Matt Cutts suggests that this hasn’t been interpreted as it originally was by Google anyway. That’s highly speculative imho.

    Also, it isn’t a tag OR an attribute. It’s a tagatrute. Please get it right.


  28. Sebastian on 27 September, 2010  #link

    Springboard, I’ve checked this with my sources, it will not work. Maybe it’s an early experiment or loophole, and if so, it won’t persist. So my best advice is to convert your stuff to WTF standard. I’d think the WTFl (life style) subset in combination with WTFg (geo locations) will be suitable to boost your page’s relevance for [BBQ in Barbados]. Take care

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