A Guide To London Keyword Negatives In Google Ads

Welcome to London Town – a place notoriously difficult for running & optimising successful PPC campaigns. Assuming you know the basics of Pay-per-Click advertising, let me cut straight to the chase and tell you why picking the right London keyword negatives has never been more important:

  • London has some of the best digital marketers on the planet & they also have some pretty sizeable budgets to play with. This ultimately means more serious competition & increases the cost required for successful keyword bids.
  • People in London are always moving, often commuting long distances to reach the capitals’ centre. If someone does a search for “dog walker” at work in Mayfair, they may actually need someone to walk their dog 50 miles away – close to their residential property.
  • Competition is fierce. Every time your ad shows up on Google, it’s likely to be surrounded by rival ads. If your Google Ad is showing up on less relevant keywords, you can bet your life the rival Ads will sound more appealing to the searcher & you won’t get as many clicks through to your site.

All these factors confirm the fact that London advertisers really need to make sure the keywords they bid on are extremely relevant to the core services of the business. Likewise, it’s also extremely important to target searches who won’t have a problem visiting your physical business location – if you’re a bricks and mortar setup. You can do this by either only showing your Ads to searchers in a particular location or postcode, alternatively you may want to include your location within some of your target keywords in Google Ads – i.e. “Professional Yoga Classes Wimbledon”.

Let me show you an example from one of London’s most established barbers, below is a screenshot of some of the keywords this business used to target:

All the above keywords are highly relevant for a men’s barbers, yet the phrase match keywords (the ones with quotes surrounding them) have all been paused. This is because in London, people often search for the service they require within their target area. Simply because the city is often too big to travel from one end to the other. In this instance, having too many phrase match keywords can mean that your Ads show every time someone uses your search term and a completely undesirable location.

Looking at the data for the last month, I can see that the target term “barber shop”managed to capture clicks from the following searches on Google:

“barber shop Ilford”

“barber shop Stratford”

“barber shop Fulham”

“Westfield’s barber shop”

The barber shop in question is based in Soho, so all of these locations wouldn’t be considered relevant & are on opposite sides of the city. This case could have been averted if more negative keywords had been selected for London boroughs & surrounding areas. The important point to remember, is that if you aren’t using location targeting or ‘exact match’ keywords – then this could happen to you.

Negative keywords for the london area

You can save yourself bundles of money and stop receiving unwanted clicks, by prioritising London keyword negatives within your existing PPC campaigns. As a recap, the definition from Google for a  ‘negative keyword’ is:


Within your Google Ads campaigns, you need to firstly target relevant terms you want your Ads to show against, but you also need to put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. Are there any other searches they are likely to do that wouldn’t be relevant for your business? If so, they are probably the best negative keywords to use for your London campaigns. The following section outlines some examples of negative keywords for the London area that you may want to consider:


Lots of Londoner’s search for services and businesses based on their post code. A few examples could be “local locksmith SE11” or “cheap car wash NW9”. If your business requires searchers from the local area then you can target people within your local postcode, alternatively all the other postcodes (particularly the ones far away) may be some of the best negative keywords to use for your London campaigns. When a user includes a postcode within their search query it means they want to find a service within that area, if you are not based there then it’s probably not the right search term for your business. A full list of London postcodes can be found here.

Tube Stations

Similar to postcodes, a lot of London searchers use queries based on their route of travel. Two examples could be “tanning salon near Waterloo Station” or “vegan restaurant Baker Street”. These types of search queries do get a lot of volume over the course of the year. So, it can be extremely beneficial to pick the main stations which are not relevant to your business and drop them into your Google Ads keyword negatives.

Big Brands & Media Sites

London is home to some very big businesses & also publications which are read by a large proportion of the city. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be useful to include rival chains & competitors within your negatives. There are 8.1 million people currently residing in London, as soon as something becomes popular & trendy you will be surprised by how keyword searches can snowball across the city. Picking London keyword negatives can obviously be tricky if you haven’t been in town too long, examples of keyword negatives I have included within campaigns before include “timeout magazine”“the shard”“tripadvisor” and also “Harrods”.

That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this write-up on why you should carefully select negative keywords for the London area and how doing so can save you marketing dollars further down the line. This article is London specific, but if truth be told you can take the learnings from this piece and apply to most big cities.