There has been a lot of debate recently as to whether or not the hunt for yield has come to an end, but I still believe dividends will continue to play an integral role in the total investment returns for Australian investors.

Unlike most other countries around the world, Australian investors enjoy the benefit of a generous franking credit system that effectively helps to boost after-tax returns, especially for those on low marginal tax rates.

With that in mind, here are four companies that I think have the potential to pay consistently higher dividends over the next few years:

Blackmores Limited (ASX: BKL) – Blackmores has rarely been considered as a high yielding share, but its recent share price crash means it now offers a relatively attractive dividend yield of 3.5%. More importantly, analysts are forecasting this dividend yield to grow to 4.2% and 5.3% over the next two years. Investors should keep in mind, however, these forecasts are based on the assumption that the vitamin maker can continue to deliver earnings per share growth of around 20% per year.

Virtus Health Ltd (ASX: VRT) – Virtus is one of the few ASX200 healthcare shares currently offering a dividend yield in excess of 3.7%. Its dividend is only expected to grow larger over the coming years, as the fertility company takes advantage of growth opportunities in Australia, Ireland and Singapore.

Greencross Limited (ASX: GXL) – Shares of the veterinary company have been extremely volatile over the past few years, but beneath this volatility has been a company that has consistently increased its dividends to shareholders. In fact, Greencross has increased its dividend by more than seven-fold since 2010. Although a current trailing dividend yield of 2.9% might be unattractive to some investors, I think the company will have ample opportunity to grow its future earnings based on the attractive long term fundamentals of the pet and animal care sector.

RCG Corporation Ltd (ASX: RCG) – The athletic clothing and footwear company has delivered exceptionally strong earnings growth over the past couple of years and this is expected to continue into FY17 with underlying earnings expected to grow at around 50%. Although the shares currently offer a trailing dividend yield of just 3.1%, this yield is expected to follow the company’s earnings higher over the next few years.

Are you looking for shares that are already paying massive, fully franked dividends?

This "dirt cheap" company. is growing like gangbusters, and trading on a fat dividend yield, FULLY FRANKED. With interest rates set to stay at these low levels for years to come, for income-hungry investors, including SMSFs, this ASX company could be the "Holy Grail" of dividend plays for 2016. Click here to gain access to this comprehensive FREE investment report, including the name of this fast growing ASX dividend share. No credit card required.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Motley Fool’s #1 Dividend Pick for 2017!

With its shares up 155% in just the last five years, this ‘under the radar’ consumer favourite is both a hot growth stock AND our expert’s #1 dividend pick for 2017. Now we’re pulling back the curtain for you... And all you have to do to discover the name, code and a full analysis is enter your email below!

Simply enter your email now to receive your copy of our brand-new FREE report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2017.”

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our https://www.fool.com.au/financial-services-guide">Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.

Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges owns shares of Blackmores Limited and RCG Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.