Dividend exchange-traded funds have been among the hottest products in the investing space in recent years, according to ETF Database, and they remained in the limelight this year.

Although the Federal Reserve has intimated that a rate rise is coming, it has not set a definitive timeline when rates will rise above current near-zero levels. This has prompted investors to search for yield to add a steady income stream to their portfolios, and many have liked what dividend ETFs offer.

On Monday, ETFdb listed the best and worst performing dividend ETFs this year. It noted that the funds its researchers had chosen were classified as dividend focused and not simply ones that paid a dividend.

All 10 of the best-performing ETFs outpaced the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), while providing a dividend-focused strategy for investors, according to ETFdb.

Best-Performing Dividend ETFs

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10. S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF — 12.02%

9. Sector Dividend Dogs ETF — 12.17%

8. Value Line Dividend Index Fund — 12.36%

7. High Yield Dividend Achievers — 13.84%

6. Equity Income ETF — 14.01%

5. SuperDividend U.S. ETF — 14.93%

4. S&P 500 High Dividend Portfolio — 16.9%

3. Ultra Dividend Fund — 17.84%

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2. ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged S&P Dividend ETN — 20.38%

1. ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged Dow Jones Select Dividend Index ETN — 21.42%

(ETFdb noted that although these two leveraged funds could provide stellar returns in bull markets, they had the potential for big losses in bear stretches.)

Worst-Performing Dividend ETFs

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The U.S. had a relatively strong year—up more than 12%, despite the October slump—but the story was different overseas. ETFdb researchers found that none of the 10 worst performing funds were U.S. focused, but instead homed in on emerging markets or other countries overseas.

10. Australia Dividend Fund — -9.27%

9. SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Dividend ETF — -9.7%

8. Europe SmallCap Dividend Fund — -9.81%

7. S&P Global Dividend Opportunities Index ETF — -10.09%

(Photo: AP)

6. International SmallCap Fund — -10.49%

5. iShares Emerging Markets Dividend ETF — -10.91%

4. Low Volatility Emerging Markets Dividend ETF — -14.43%

3. Commodity Country Equity Fund — -14.91%

(Photo: AP)

2. Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund — -15.04%

1. Global Natural Resources Fund — -24.06%

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