I'm building a website for a personal trainer in Australia. It would be a blog, with an online store for selling business merchandise, and an active online community. I'll also need a .com.au domain name.
1) Would you guys suggest I get an Australian webhost? Or will anyone do?
2) Would I be needing an SSL certificate and a dedicated IP? Even if payments are conducted through a third-party like PayPal?
3) Any suitable webhosts in mind? My main preference is quick and reliable customer support.
4) Is there anything else you guys think I should be keeping in mind, considering the nature of my website?
Unless the personal trainer is a celebrity coach, I wouldn't anticipate major traffic to the site, so a regular Linux shared hosting account would be more than plenty for your needs.
Yes, I would recommend an Australian-based provider due to faster connectivity/response time and speed with which the website is going to load for your target audience - Australian residents.
I am not sure how exactly you would like to setup your online store, but I would recommend to outsource the e-commerce part to hosted solutions that allow you to relax and focus on marketing and let them handle the payment processing part of your business.
Reliable domain registrars are: Namecheap.com, GoDaddy.com and enom.com that people tend to like the most.
It is hard to recommend a hosting provider without direct first hand experience (and I'd shy away from such recommendations). I suggest reading reviews and asking on web hosting forums such as HostingDiscussion.com and WebHostingTalk.com for advice.
If you plan to get an SSL then a Dedicated IP is required..That isn't need though if you only plan on using Paypal..
Since your in Australia you may wanna consider an Australian host..or maybe a European host as that way you would be about halfway between the US and AUS..probably the top two countries your site will be seeing.
1) Australian Web Host is probably more expensive. If this is a probably, looking for something in Los Angeles etc - with lower latency to Australia being the key. USA sites tend to fare quite well here anyhow.
2) You will need SSL and dedicated IP as long as you store some sensitive information, such as passwords etc. SSL protects the transit of data. Basically any e-commerce type of application should have SSL. It also gives users better trust in purchasing from you even if you will be using Paypal.