Finding quality dividend stocks doesn't need to be difficult or time-consuming. Even first-time investors can unlock exceptional returns by investing in stocks with underlying financial strength and reliable dividend payouts. To help you get started, here are three reasons why Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) is a top dividend stock for your portfolio today.

It is a Dividend Aristocrat
Procter & Gamble is a Dividend Aristocrat, which means it has increased its dividend payout every year for at least 25 years. Investing in dependable dividend stocks, such as those on the S&P Aristocrats list, can be a rewarding way to unlock exceptional returns whether the market is up or down. Procter & Gamble stands out because it offers investors low risk and high dividend growth.

The consumer goods conglomerate has paid a dividend for the past 124 years without fail. Yet, perhaps more impressive, P&G has increased that dividend for 58 consecutive years at a compounded rate of more than 9% a year. The company increased its dividend 7% to $2.45 per share in fiscal 2014, and returned a whopping $6.9 billion in dividend payments to shareholders during that period. 

This solid track record tells investors that P&G knows how to put its shareholders first.

A reliable payout and strong cash flow
Procter & Gamble also gets top marks for its sustainable payout ratio and ability to produce generous amounts of cash flow. The stock currently has a dividend yield of 2.87%, which is significantly better than the S&P 500's average yield of 1.9% today.

Additionally, the company's payout ratio of 65% means management should be able to continue paying a dividend for many years to come. This metric is important because it tells investors how much of the company's net income is being given back to shareholders. Moreover, at 65% of P&G's net income, management still has ample cash on hand to reinvest in growing the business. Specifically, P&G spent $2 billion on research and development this year. That should be welcome news to long-term investors because it indicates the company is committed to investing in future growth.

It boasts a portfolio of billion-dollar brands
A company is only as good as its products, and in Procter & Gamble's case, this is a very good thing. The consumer goods giant boasts a portfolio that includes 23 brands that each generate between $1 billion and $10 billion in annual sales for the company. This has enabled P&G to responsibly reward shareholders through dividend growth and share buybacks, without worrying about where its next cash load will come from. A few of the company's leading global brands include Gillette razors, Tide laundry detergent, and Crest toothpaste.

P&G is in the process of shedding some of its underperforming brands, however, this shouldn't be a problem for the company's future earnings, because P&G's core brands (the ones it's keeping) currently account for about 90% of its revenue. Ultimately this should make Procter & Gamble more nimble and a stronger competitor in the global consumer products space.

The big takeaway for investors is that Procter & Gamble's collection of billion-dollar brands, reliable payout ratio, and track record as a long-standing Dividend Aristocrat make it one of the top dividend stocks to own today.

Tamara Rutter has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.