There are dozens of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) dedicated to dividend stocks, underscoring the group's prominence in the world of smart beta funds. Some dividend ETFs weight stocks according to yield, while others focus on the length of stocks' dividend increase streaks. Others use methodologies that can be described as "alternative" but potentially potent when it comes to payout consistency. At more than 11 years old, the WisdomTree Total U.S. Dividend Fund (DTD) can be considered a legacy product among dividend ETFs.

DTD also uses a different weighting methodology than some of its rivals. The ETF follows the fundamentally weighted WisdomTree U.S. Dividend Index, an index that "is dividend weighted at the annual reconstitution in December to reflect the proportionate share of the aggregate cash dividends each component company is projected to pay in the coming year, based on the most recently declared dividend per share," according to WisdomTree. (See also: How Dividend-Paying ETFs Work.)

DTD's index sports a dividend yield of 2.87%, or about 100 basis points above the dividend yield on the S&P 500 and well above the yield delivered by U.S. Treasuries. Data prove that, over the long term, DTD's strategy delivers for investors. Since the start of the current bull market in U.S. stocks back in March 2009, DTD has outpaced the S&P 500 by more than 800 basis points while displaying lower annualized volatility. Importantly, DTD has also outpaced yield-weighted dividend ETFs by healthy margins over that span. DTD is up nearly 9% year to date after hitting an all-time high Wednesday.

The WisdomTree Total U.S. Dividend Fund also has an enviable track record against actively managed rivals. Since coming to market more than 11 years ago, DTD has topped 84% of actively managed large-cap value funds as of the end of the first quarter, according to WisdomTree data. (See also: How ETF Dividends are Taxed.)

For the most part, dividend ETFs are not constrained at the sector level, but some arrive in that situation by using yield-weighted indexes or indexes that focus on dividend increase streaks. Due to the fact that is not yield-weighted, DTD allocates just 10% of its combined weight to interest rate-sensitive utilities and telecom stocks. Due to its increased sector flexibility, DTD's largest sector allocation is 15.2% to technology. That is a comparatively high weight to technology compared with similarly aged dividend ETFs. Highlighting its emphasis on tech, Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) are DTD's two largest holdings, a rarity among older traditional dividend ETFs.

DTD also pays its dividend monthly, which is another rarity among competing strategies but one that can add income consistency for investors. (See also: Generating Income in Retirement Using ETFs.)

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