I'd like to go ahead and get my hosting and start developing my website online. What's the best way to keep it private and hidden from users/google while I do this?
Thanks, I spent some today setting up a local server so I'll just use that for now.
I agree 100%. Having a localhost server is way easier than uploading - testing - editing - uploading - testing .......
Even if you can't get your localhost server configured exactly like what you'll end up with for a live server, you should be able to get things close enough for initial developing.
You don't need hosting to develop the website--that is just as, if not more, easily done locally.
I always password protect them using a .htaccess file.
For a tutorial on that: http://www.freewebmasterhelp.com/tutorials/htaccess/3
This assumes you're running Apache. For IIS it won't work AFAIK.